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TADA court curb on interviews of accused

Court seriously objected to a TV interview of mobster Abu Salem inside the high-security Arthur Road jail.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2006 22:17 IST

Taking serious objection to a TV interview of mobster Abu Salem inside the high-security Arthur Road jail in Mumbai, a special court on Wednesday said no such incidents would be permitted henceforth even as it ordered a probe into the incident.

Salem, an accused in the March 12, 1993 Mumbai blasts case, is lodged in the jail, awaiting the judgement ever since he was extradited from Portugalin 2005.

The special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Preventive) Act (TADA) court, hearing the blasts case, is housed inside the jail premises, where all the accused are lodged.

The special court Judge Pramod Kode's attention was drawn on the television interview on Wednesday by Jail Superintendent Swati Sathe who handed over a compact disc recording of the interview to the court. The interview was purportedly filmed inside the jail with the help of a hidden camera.

"This is a special court with several restrictions. What is happening? How can a camera be taken inside a court? Kode asked.

"Henceforth, cameras will not be permitted inside the court. Media persons are restricted to take any interview of the accused within the court premises," Kode warned.

"If such incidents reoccur, I will be forced to deal with it sternly in accordance with the law."

Directing the court staff to make a transcript of the interview and hand it over to special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Kode asked Nikam to examine the transcript and inform it if the contents of the interview amount to contempt of court or not.

Kode, however, turned down Sathe's plea to bar the entry of media persons from the jail premises to cover the court proceedings.

"This is a public court and you cannot do that (bar the media)," he said.

"There should be no interview of any accused lodged in the jail."

Meanwhile, media persons entering the jail on Wednesday had to go through a strict security drill. Journalists were even asked to take off their shoes during the checks before entering the jail.

First Published: Oct 18, 2006 22:17 IST