The Esplanade metropolitan magistrate’s court witnessed drama when the magistrate stopped journalists from entering the court at the insistence of defence lawyers.
The magistrate did not allow journalists to enter the courtroom to cover the proceedings in the hit-and-run case.
The magistrate had initially asked the media to seek permission from the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, but later said that the media would be responsible for what they report.
Advocate Rizwan Merchant argued for the media after some journalists approached him. Merchant said not permitting journalists in the court was a violation of Article 19 [which talks about the Right to Freedom] of the Constitution of India.
Merchant further argued that there could be restrictions only if the matter concerns national security or public order. He said as per Constitution the magistrate’s court does not have the power to issue prohibition orders on the media and that only the high court has that power.
He said the case did not concern offences such as rape, which need to be dealt with sensitively, or involve character assassination. He argued that the media will report from the remand report and not express their views in news reports.
Merchant later told Hindustan Times, “The rule has to be blanket. The court cannot direct the media to go out of the case while allowing general public to sit through the proceedings.”
Magistrate V. W. Sonawane adjourned the hearing on the prohibition issue and will hear it on February 3.