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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Delhi rape: gag continues, HC to hear case today

Harish V Nair and Sumit Saxena, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 10, 2013
First Published: 00:54 IST(10/1/2013) | Last Updated: 10:46 IST(10/1/2013)

A city court's order restraining the media from reporting the recent gang rape case proceedings continued on Wednesday with the Delhi High Court refusing to grant an urgent hearing against it.

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"The entire country is interested in the case. The gag order is against public interest. To inform the public is our professional duty," senior advocate Meenakshi Lekhi told a bench headed by chief justice D Murugesan on behalf of journalists.

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But the chief justice refused to give an urgent hearing and asked her to file a proper petition. "When there is a judicial order, how can we hear it just like that? File a proper application, we will hear it tomorrow," justice Murugesan said.

Earlier in the day, district and sessions judge RK Gauba dismissed a petition, challenging a metropolitan magistrate's order restraining the media from reporting the proceedings of the gang rape case that has attracted worldwide attention. The case will come up before the trial court on Thursday.

"The fact that a large crowd had entered her (metropolitan magistrate) court room leaving no space for even the undertrial prisoners to be brought in only added to the circumstances leading to passing of the order," Gauba said in his order.

There was nothing improper in the magistrate's order on January 7, restraining media from reporting the trial, he added.

The magistrate had said the courtroom was jam-packed with members of the bar and general public who were unconnected with the case and not prepared to leave it due to which the accused could not be produced before her.

Commenting on the legality of the order, the session's judge said, "The metropolitan magistrate was not only within her rights, rather duty-bound to apply the provisions of section 327 (2) (conducting in-camera proceedings in cases of rape and related offences) of the CrPC to the proceedings of the case."

Within hours, a journalists' association approached the high court through Lekhi to get the gag order quashed.

But the high court said it would take up the issue on Thursday only after a proper petition was filed.

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