New Delhi, Jan. 7: A Delhi court today ordered an in-camera trial in the bus gang rape case and also restrained the media from reporting and publishing the proceedings amidst high drama inside the courtroom after two groups of lawyers almost came to blows on the question of defending the five of the six accused.
A group of lawyers volunteered to represent the acc-used, which was dismissed by the other group alleging them to be “publicity seekers”. Ev-ery inch inside the courtroom remained occupied by law-yers, mediapersons and police. With no space left for the accused, the proceedings got disrupted for around two hours.
The exchange of words between the lawyers continued for over one-and-half hours. When repeated requests by the police to make way for the accused inside the courtroom failed, metropolitan magistrate Namrita Aggarwal pas-sed the order at 2.15pm. “Keeping in view the situation wh-ich has arisen in this case, proceedings, including the inqu-iry and the trial, will be held in-camera and I am invoking Section 327 (2) of CrPC. It shall not be lawful to print or publish any matter in this case without permission from this court,” the judge said.
Section 327 (2) of the criminal procedure code says rape trials should be conducted in camera and makes it illegal for anyone to publish anything relating to such proceedings without prior court permission.
Mediapersons, including several foreign journalists, took vintage positions inside the courtroom that was already crowded with lawyers about two hours ago before the commencement of the proceedings at 12.05pm.
The five accused, who were summoned by the court, were also brought from Tihar jail but they were kept inside the court lock-up for two hours after the prosecution raised security concerns.
As soon as the proceedings began, M.L. Sharma, a Supreme Court lawyer, volunteered to represent the accused saying their families had approached him for the same. But the metropolitan magistrate rejected his application and asked him to visit the accused in Tihar to seek their consent and not in the court complex.
She also dismissed the application moved by two advocates for being appointed as amicus curiae in the case saying the accused will be provided legal aid. “If the accused want any individual lawyer to the case, it is only then defence counsel shall appear before this court,” she said. The metropolitan magistrate asked everybody present in the courtroom to make space for the accused, but the police cited security concerns and said they would be brought on-ly after the court was cleared.