Court keeps media out of rape trial

FP

A Delhi court today ordered in camera proceedings in the case relating to the gangrape and torture of a 23-year-old woman who died later in a Singapore hospital, 13 days after being assaulted on board a moving bus on December 16.

Metropolitan magistrate Namrita Aggarwal, in whose court five of the six arrested in the case were being produced, barred all persons not directly involved in the trial, including lawyers, mediapersons and the general public, from watching or reporting the proceedings.

The five men were later brought to the Saket courtroom under heavy security and supplied copies of the chargesheet filed by police. They have been given time to scrutinise the chargesheet and engage a lawyer.

The court will take up the matter for further proceedings on January 10. A legal aid counsel was reportedly deputed to "look after their interest" during the hearing today.

Two advocates who expressed willingness to represent the accused in court were asked to "approach the accused directly and appear before the court only with the signed vakalatnama" .

The court was forced to order in camera proceedings in view of "apprehension to the safety of the undertrial prisoners" due to the "unprecedented situation" of a large crowd gathering inside the courtroom.

The court invoked sections 327(2) and 327(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure which provide for in camera proceedings in a rape trial and prohibit reporting, in publication or otherwise, any matter in relation to the proceedings except with the permission of the court. Even when permission is given, the CrPC states that the identity of the victim must not be revealed.

"I am invoking sections 327(2) and 327(3) CrPC. The proceedings in the case will from now proceed under section 327(2) CrPC i.e. the inquiry and trial shall be held in camera," the magistrate said.

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