Gangrape: HC notice on plea against media ban

The Delhi High Court on Friday sought replies from the government and Delhi Police on a petition challenging a city court order that prohibits the media from reporting proceedings in the case relating to the gangrape and torture of a 23-year-old woman who died 13 days after being assaulted on board a bus in South Delhi.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher issued notice after a group of reporters filed a petition alleging that a media advisory issued by police regarding operation of Section 327 of the CrPC and the order of the court of Metropolitan Magistrate Namrata Aggarwal banning media reporting of proceedings in the case were "virtually a gag order" which violate the right to free speech and expression.

The petition, filed on behalf of reporters by advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, stated that the order was "not warranted" since the provision for in camera trial was necessary only to shield the identity of the victim. "Her father has disclosed the identity and name to the foreign media which has been published in newspapers abroad and on social network sites," the petition stated. Lekhi told the court that mediapersons have acted with "responsibility and sensitivity".

"Even though the name and identity of the victim are in the public domain, no newspaper or channel has published it... There is need to sensitise people on gender issues," she said. The High Court asked the police and government to file written replies by February 13.

The court made it clear that the pendency of the petition "would not come in the way of proceedings before the lower court which would have the discretion to decide the manner in which the gangrape case could be heard."

The ban on reporting of the gangrape case, therefore, remains in effect.

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