The Delhi High Court today sought the national child rights panel's response to a plea seeking the registration of an FIR against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for allegedly revealing a Dalit girl's identity, who was raped and killed in 2021, by posting on Twitter a photo with her parents.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Datta issued notice to National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCOCR) and granted it four weeks to file a counter-affidavit in response to the petition. The court listed the matter for further hearing on July 27.

At the outset, the counsel for NCPCR submitted that a formal notice has not been issued to them and urged the court to issue a notice to the child rights body on the petition to enable it to file an affidavit.

NCPCR had earlier told the court that despite Twitter's claim about taking down Gandhi's alleged tweet, the offence of making such disclosure survives.

Makarand Suresh Mhadlekar, a social activist, moved the high court in 2021 claiming that by posting the photo with the parents of the child victim, Gandhi violated the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which prohibit the disclosure of the identity of minor victims of sexual offences.

Twitter had submitted that "nothing survived" in the petition as the tweet in question has been "geo-blocked" and was not available in India. Its counsel had also informed that initially Gandhi's entire account was suspended by the social media platform but it was later restored.

A nine-year-old Dalit girl died under suspicious circumstances on August 1, 2021, with her parents alleging that she was raped, murdered, and cremated by a crematorium's priest in southwest Delhi's Old Nangal village.

On October 5, 2021, a bench headed by then Chief Justice DN Patel issued notice to Twitter on the petition which alleged that Gandhi was "attempting to take political mileage out of the unfortunate incident".

The court had then refused to issue notice to Gandhi, the Delhi Police, and NCPCR on the public interest litigation (PIL) at that stage. The plea has also sought initiation of appropriate legal action against Gandhi by NCPCR.

With PTI Inputs