Kamduni villagers in a protest march over the rape and murder
The city sessions court on Wednesday ordered the Kamduni rape-murder trial to be held in camera to protect the dignity of the victim’s family.
Sanchita Sarkar, the additional sessions judge of the second fast-track court, who issued the order, rejected defence counsel Phiroze Edulzi’s plea for video and audio recording of the proceedings on the grounds of unavailability of technical support.
In an in-camera trial no one other than the accused and legal representatives of the parties involved was allowed in the courtroom. The doors of the room remain closed during the trial.
According to Section 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the trial of rape cases should be held in camera. The section also says that preferably a woman magistrate should hold the trial of rape cases.
“From now, law restricts media to publish or telecast details of the trial. No one will be allowed to reveal the witnesses’ statements and lawyers’ submissions to the public,” said Uday Shankar Chatterjee, a high court advocate.
Additional sessions judge Sarkar, who is conducting the Kamduni trial, ruled: “Provided that the ban on printing or publication of trial proceeding in relation to an offence of rape may be lifted, subject to maintaining confidentiality of name and address of the parties.”
The judge, however, granted a plea to publish Wednesday’s order in the media.
Public prosecutor Dipak Ranjan Ghosh had petitioned the court for an in-camera trial of the Kamduni case citing the relevant CrPC provision. Edulzi opposed the plea, citing a Delhi High Court ruling quashing a lower court’s order for an in-camera trial in the Delhi gang rape and murder case.
“In the Kamduni case, the victim is dead. Besides, the media has been playing a responsible role by not hurting the dignity of the victim’s family. The incident has drawn the attention of the entire nation and people are keen to know about the trial. Let the nation know how the Indian judiciary delivers justice in a free and fair manner,” Edulzi said in his submission that stretched more than two hours.
The court observed that technical support was needed to grant Edulzi’s plea for video and audio recording of the trial. The magistrate mentioned in her order that unavailability of technical support was unfortunate.
Responding to Wednesday’s order, Edulzi said: “I am yet to get a copy of the ruling. Once I get it I will decide my move.”