New Delhi: Taking suo motu note of a letter on posting of two rape videos on WhatsApp, the Supreme Court on Friday asked CBI to launch a probe "forthwith" to nab the culprits and sought responses from the Centre and governments of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Delhi and Telangana.
"The fact of the matter is that it is a very serious issue and something needs to be done," the social justice bench of justices Madan B Lokur and UU Lalit said after going through the contents of the letter written by Hyderabad-based NGO Prajwala to Chief Justice of India HL Dattu.
"Since the first suggestion (of NGO) is for CBI investigation, notice be issued to the Director CBI to register the crime and start investigation with immediate effect," the bench said.
The NGO, which provided the videos in a pen drive along with the letter to the CJI, said that one video, which is 4.5 minutes long, shows a man raping a girl while another man is filming the heinous act.
The other video, spanning 8.5 minutes, relates to gang-rape of a girl by five culprits who have been shown smiling, cracking jokes, making a video and taking photos while they went about sexually assaulting the victim, it said.
The court issued notices to central ministries of Home Affairs and Information Technology and asked the MHA Secretary to "forward the pen drive/DVD" to the CBI Director "forthwith" for the investigation.
The bench said that it has taken "cognisance" of the letter referred to it by the CJI and ordered that a proper petition be filed on March 9. It has now fixed the case for hearing on March 13.
It issued notice to the states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi after referring to the contents of the rape videos and took note the facts that some of the culprits talk in Bengali accent.
The bench also issued notice to Telangana after it was told that no significant progress has been made in a case relating to the attack on the car of one of the office bearers of the NGO who had launched the 'Shame the Rapist' campaign on social networking sites. Stressing the need for "corrective" measures, the bench wanted to know as to whether any culprit has been arrested so far.
The counsel appearing for the NGO replied in negative.
The NGO, in its letter, had given several suggestions including initiation of a CBI probe into the incident.
It also suggested that a taskforce be set up for looking into the sexual offences and a mechanism be evolved to ensure that citizens report such crimes a "fearless" manner and their identity be protected.
It mooted the idea of maintaining a National Sex Offenders Register which should contain details of persons convicted for offences like eve-teasing, stalking, molestation and other sexual assaults.
The NGO has also suggested that the MHA should have a tie up with 'YouTube' and 'WhatsApp' to ensure that such offensive videos are not uploaded and culprits are punished as well.