The day-long wait, a locked door, near stampede, a ‘sadhu’ in the court room

Thursday

Foreign correspondents to beat reporters, they all turned out in strength. From 8.30 in the morning, they waited outside the court of the additional chief metropolitan magistrate at the Saket court complex.

Minutes turned into hours, morning into afternoon. Still no sign of the police — the officers there claimed they were not in the loop — or the chargesheet against the men arrested for the gangrape and torture of a 23-year-old woman who died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital, 13 days after the horrific attack on board a moving bus in South Delhi.

At 5 pm, when the ACMM court where the chargesheet was to be filed closed for the day, the waiting reporters, lawyers and activists looked thoroughly bewildered. The staff there said the chargesheet was not going to be filed in that court. Some reporters went into a huddle, others walked away to call their sources in police.

Then some lawyers spread the word that the chargesheet would be filed in the court of the duty magistrate. This set off a near stampede. But once people reached there, they found the court doors locked. A court employee told a reporter that the police and the public prosecutor had quietly entered the duty magistrate's room and locked it.

This infuriated the lawyers and reporters. Many banged on the door and when it opened, almost everyone barged in. Some lawyers protested, saying police and court staff had no business to lock the court room. Duty magistrate Surya Malik Grover too was surprised: "I had not given orders to lock court room. Why was the court room locked? The court room should never be locked. I will tell my staff to always keep the court room open."

Hardly had the proceedings begun when a man dressed as a 'sadhu' interrupted, stopping the police from filing the chargsheet. As reporters jostled, the man raised his hand and voice, demanding that the accused be turned over to the public. "Hand them over to us, we will punish them," he shouted. But he was shouted down by reporters who told him to stand quietly or leave the court room. Finding no support, he lapsed into silence.

... contd.

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