The state health department has directed all hospitals to ensure that the names of minors allegedly subjected to crime under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act are not recorded during their medical tests or in forensic reports to protect their identity.
The directive issued by Swasthya Bhavan, the health department headquarters, on Monday refers to Section 33(7) of the Pocso Act.
The section says: “The Special Court shall ensure that the identity of the child is not disclosed at any time during the course of investigation or trial: Provided that for reasons to be recorded in writing, the Special Court may permit such disclosure, if in its opinion such disclosure is in the interest of the child.”
An official of the state health department said the directive also referred to a Supreme Court guideline, which mentions that the identity of the child should not only be not disclosed in print, electronic or social media, but also during the investigation or trial.
“There is a separate guideline for the hospitals asking medical officers to not record the name of the victim girl in the Medical Examination Document… the girl shall be identified as the ‘victim’ in the report. The victim’s name must also not be mentioned in any forensic report,” the official said.
Police officers who have handled Pocso cases said they took “ample precaution” to keep the identity of alleged victims under wraps while recording complaints or statements.
But at times the medical or forensic report, which becomes part of the police investigation’s case diary and is submitted in court, mentions the child’s name, indirectly bringing it into public domain.
The health department’s order has been circulated among all hospitals across the state.