High court allows media coverage of Dec 16 gang-rape trial

Last Updated 22 March 2013, 07:12 IST

The Delhi High Court Friday allowed the media to cover the day-to-day trial of the Dec 16 gang rape case in the Saket fast-track court here, subject to certain restrictions.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher, allowing the plea of journalists seeking an open trial instead of an in-camera one, directed the lower court to allow access to one representative of each media house.

"The court will allow access to one representative journalist of each of the accredited national dailies. The petitioners before me represent some of them," the order said.

The court however, imposed some restrictions on the media, saying it would not disclose the name of the victim or her family members or witnesses cited during the trial.

The reporters will exclude parts of proceedings that the court instructs them not to report, Justice Shakdher said, setting aside the media advisory issued by the police not to report the court proceedings and order of the trial court.

"The reporting shall not disclose the name of the victim or those of the members of the family of the victim or the complainant or witnesses cited in the proceedings," the order said.

"The reportage shall exclude the part of the proceedings, which the court specifically so direct."

"At the end, 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," it added.

The court order came on a plea filed by some legal journalists saying their "fundamental right of speech and expression" was being violated by the ban on the coverage of the case.

The Delhi Police by its advisory on Jan 5 restrained the media from publishing news related to the case and the trial court Jan 22 ordered in-camera trial, while instructing media not to report any news related to the case without its permission.

Advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, appearing for journalists, told the court that as responsible members of society and its representative, journalists should be allowed to cover the case as "awareness of people on judicial proceedings is essential".

However, advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for police, had opposed the plea saying it was a rape case and "every trial of a rape case has to be in-camera".

(Published 22 March 2013, 05:49 IST)

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