High Court notices to Delhi Government and Delhi Police

The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notices to the Delhi Government and the Delhi Police on a petition by a group of legal reporters seeking quashing of the police advisory requesting reporters not to cover the prosecution proceedings of the Delhi gang-rape case as well as a Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) order making the court concerned out of bounds for the media.

Issuing the notices, Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the respondents to file replies to the petition by February 13, the next date of hearing.

The petitioners through their counsel Meenakshi Lekhi submitted that the police had issued the advisory requesting reporters not to report the court proceedings of the case to hide their shortcomings in the investigation of the case.

She submitted that the police had issued the advisory on January 5 when during taking cognisance of the charge sheet of the case it was revealed that the investigating officer had not added the murder charge (302) against the accused persons.

Later, the public prosecutor in the case moved an application urging the MM at the Saket district courts to take cognisance of the murder charge as well against the accused.

The petitioners charged that it seemed the city police let an unruly scene develop inside the courtroom and around it by not monitoring gathering of the crowd on the day of taking cognisance of the charge sheet to drive home the point to the presiding officer for an in-camera proceedings of the case.

Immediately, thereafter the MM met the investigating officer and the prosecutor in her chamber and thereafter passed the order for in-camera proceedings and also restrained the media from reporting the proceedings at their requests.

Opposing the blanket ban, Ms. Lekhi urged the Court to pass a direction for regulating the type and number of people entering the courtroom during hearing of the case.

The MM order was a gag order which was violative of the Fundamental Rights to Personal Liberty and Freedom of Speech enshrined in the Constitution, Ms. Lekhi submitted, adding that there was nothing to hide about the identity of the gang rape victim as her father had revealed her name and identity and it was published by several foreign newspapers and websites.

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