Malegaon blast: Scribes oppose plea for in-camera trial

A group of journalists from Mumbai on Monday filed an intervention application before a special court here opposing the NIA's plea to conduct an 'in-camera' trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case. (File Photo)

A group of journalists from Mumbai on Monday filed an intervention application before a special court here opposing the NIA's plea to conduct an 'in-camera' trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case.

An in-camera hearing is conducted in private with only the judge, lawyers and parties concerned in attendance. The proceedings of such a hearing are not made known to the media or members of the public.

Last week, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is the prosecuting body, sought the in-camera hearing, arguing it was the sensitive case, and such private hearing was essential to ensure the safety of the 38 witnesses it wished to examine.

The NIA said the allegations in the case pertained to a blast in an area "dominated by a particular community", and therefore, making details of the hearing public might create tension.

However, on Monday, 11 journalists from various newspapers and TV channels in Mumbai filed their application, opposing NIA's request.

In their plea filed through advocates Rizwan Merchant and Gayatri Gokhale, the journalists said barring them from attending the hearing in the case would amount to a breach of their right to report and disseminate important information among the public.

They said such a "gag" order would also amount to the breach of one's constitutional right to freedom of speech and expression.

Judge Vinod Padalkar of the special court admitted the plea and said in the interest of justice and fair hearing, the NIA must respond to the plea on Tuesday.

On September 29, 2008, a bomb attached to a motorcycle went off near a mosque in Malegaon town of Maharashtra's Nashik district, killed six people and injuring 100 others.

Lt Col Prasad Purohit and BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur are among those accused in the case.

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