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Delhi court restricts media coverage of rape trial

Publication Date : 08-01-2013


A Delhi court yesterday ordered the proceedings in the case of the December 16 gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student to be held in-camera. It also restrained the media from reporting and publishing the proceedings of the case without the court's prior permission.

Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal issued the order amidst unruly scenes which initially prevented the accused in the case being led in before her.

Facing a jampacked courtroom, with lawyers, mediapersons and members of the public unconnected with the case crowding into every inch of space, even, as the magistrate noted, "to the extent of standing next to the reader and stenographer", she invoked Section 327 (2)(iii) of the Criminal Procedure Code for the trial to be held in-camera. The order added that it shall not be lawful to print or publish any matter or content in this case except with the permission of the court.

Three days’ ago, Delhi police had issued an advisory that the proceedings in the case cannot be reported as the court has already taken cognizance of the charge-sheet, even though the court had held its proceedings in an open court. However, today, public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan moved an application for in-camera proceedings, which the court allowed.

While issuing the order, the court noted that repeated appeals to those who had gathered to wait outside so that the court proceedings could start were not heeded.

“The prosecutor has also submitted that there is apprehension to safety of the under-trial prisoners,” said the court.  The court noted that the accused could not be produced before it from the Saket Court complex’s lock-up, for want of room in the courtroom.

Later the five were produced before the court. It posted the hearing for  January 10. The scrutiny of documents will take place that day before the case is committed to Sessions. 

Some lawyers have approached the district judge’s court against the court’s order restraining the media from reporting the proceedings of the case. District judge RK Gauba has issued notice to the police seeking the agency’s response on this plea and fixed the matter for hearing on January 9.

There was high drama in the court earlier. As soon as the accused were brought near the courtroom and police asked people to make way for them to enter, those present there began shouting saying there were more policemen in the court than general public and lawyers taken together.

Later, when two lawyers showed up to defend the accused, other advocates present in the courtroom vehemently objected.

Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma claimed he had been contacted by the accused’s family members to defend them. Another advocate, V K Anand, also volunteered his services as amicus curiae in the case, though he said nobody from the accused’s side approached him. 

However, the other advocates present in the court room apart from members of an NGO, Pragatisheel Mahila Sangthan, protested saying the accused are involved in a very heinous crime and no one should defend them.

Anand lifted a small stool kept for keeping the advocates’ books and banged it on the arguing counsels’ table. saying he will do as his conscience demands. The Saket Bar Association vice president, Arun Rathi, however, intervened to prevent a fight from erupting in the court room.

After the situation was brought under control, the judge came to the courtroom and ordered that the hearing would be conducted in-camera.
The court dismissed the application moved by both the advocates for being appointed as amicus curiae in the case saying the accused will be provided legal aid. “If the accused themselves want any individual lawyer to be appointed for them, then only the defence counsel in the case shall appear before this court,” said the court.

The case of the sixth accused, reportedly a minor, is to be heard by a Juvenile Justice Board.

After the scrutiny of the documents in the charge-sheet, the case will be committed to the court of Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna, who has been appointed as a judge of the newly set-up fast track court to exclusively deal with cases of crimes against women.


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