The fast-track court that will try the Delhi gang-rape case has ordered that in-camera proceedings and gag orders restraining the media from publishing any matter relating to the court proceedings, which came into effect on January 9 by a magisterial court order, will continue.

Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna will also start hearing arguments from January 24 on a day-to-day basis.

“The trial shall, henceforth, be held by me in camera. All persons unconnected with the case are directed to clear the courtroom and ensure safe passage to the accused persons. It shall not be lawful for any person to publish or print any matter relating to the proceedings of this case except with the prior permission of this court. Such an order is even otherwise, necessary, considering the sensitivity of the matter; to conceal the identity of victim, to ensure safety of the complainant and the accused, to ensure a fair trial and also for the smooth functioning of the court,” Mr. Khanna said in his order on Monday.

An application seeking open-court proceedings in the case found support from advocate V.K. Anand, counsel representing main accused bus driver Ram Singh. Mr. Anand referred to a 1966 Supreme Court judgment, stating that trials should be open to the public and there should be no restraint on reporting court proceedings. However, the cited judgment allowed closed-door proceedings in “rare and exceptional” cases.

Mr. Khanna referred to the 1983 amendment in the Criminal Procedure Code which introduced provisions for in-camera proceedings in rape cases (Sub-Section 327(2) Cr.PC) and for restraining media from reporting rape cases (Sub-Section 327(3) Cr.PC) while stating that courts were “duty bound” to apply the provisions of these two sub-sections.

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