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HC allows media to cover Delhi gang rape case trial

March 22, 2013 13:15 IST

The Delhi high court on Friday allowed the media to cover the day-to-day proceedings of the trial in the December 16 gang rape case, which was being heard behind closed doors till date.

Setting aside the order passed by the additional sessions judge on January 22, which restrained the media from covering the trial, Justice Rajiv Shakdher said, "The court will allow access to one representative journalist of each of the accredited national dailies."

Allowing the plea of a group of accredited journalists from the high court, the judge said, "The reporters of PTI and UNI and other national dailies shall share their stories with the representatives of other newspapers and members of the electronic media."

The court asked the media not to disclose the name of the victim or any of her family members, saying, "The reporting shall not disclose the names of the victim or those of the members of the family of the victim or the complainant or witnesses cited in the proceedings."

"The reportage shall exclude the part of the proceedings which the trial court specifically so directs," it added.

The high court also hoped that the media will confine its reporting to the news and will not transgress into areas in the trial court's domain.

"It is hoped that reportage will confine itself to the news as it is, and not transgress into the areas which are in the domain of the court. There is a thin, but a clean and distinct line dividing the two, which if respected will augur well for institutional integrity," the court observed.

The 23-year-old victim was gangraped in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

The high court also set aside the Delhi police's January 5 advisory which had said the proceedings in the case cannot be reported as the lower court had already taken cognisance of the chargesheet.

The Delhi police had opposed before the high court the journalists' plea seeking access to the trial in the gangrape case, saying the inquiry and trial in every rape case should be held in-camera.

It had argued before the high court that the "right to report by the media is not absolute. The media cannot claim as a party in the case and the legal provisions would apply only to the accused or the victim as they are the necessary parties."

The journalists, in their plea, had argued that media has a duty to access all the cases, which is part of democratic system, and a blanket ban order against media access is a "bad order" in a free society.

They had sought an open trial in the case and submitted that reporting of the gangrape case had helped the society and due to wide coverage of the incident, two superior courts of the country had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident because of the news reporting.

Referring to certain documents and the TV interview given by the sole witness and male friend of the victim, the counsel for the journalists had submitted that despite the fact that the family members of the victim had disclosed the name and other details of the victim, the media had not come out with her name.

A magisterial court on January 7 had ordered in-camera trial in the case following unruly scenes that prevented the accused from being led into the court room.

The decision of the magisterial court was later confirmed by the fast track court.

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