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Women’s panel let into in-camera hearing

Calcutta, June 7: The high court today allowed state women’s commission representatives to be present during the in-camera deposition of victims of the Dhantola rape, loot and murder.

The incident in February last year in which two buses returning from wedding receptions were looted, the passengers tortured and a driver shot had sent shock waves across the state. A fast-track court in Nadia’s Ranaghat is hearing the case.

Outsiders are usually not allowed during an in-camera trial. Eminent lawyer and former advocate-general of Tripura Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said: “It is a rarest of rare order delivered by the high court. It has not passed any such order in memory. In this case, the court has considered the nature of the crime and its impact on society.”

Delivering the order, Justice S.P. Talukdar said the directive could not be taken as a precedent in similar cases in future.

The order came following a petition by the government against an earlier order of the trial court in Ranaghat that rejected the women’s commission prayer to allow its representatives in during the deposition of the women who were allegedly raped at Nadia’s Dhantola.

Earlier, the trial court had turned down a government petition to hold the hearing in-camera. The state then moved a petition against the decision. The high court asked the Ranaghat court to hold the trial in-camera.

When the commission pleaded with the Ranaghat court to allow it to be represented during depositions, it turned down the plea on the ground that the high court had ordered an in-camera trial.

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