A sessions court here on Wednesday upheld a magistrate order on in-camera proceedings in the Delhi gang-rape case and restraining the media from reporting on the proceedings.
District Judge R.K. Gauba noted that there was nothing illegal or improper in Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal’s order of January 7.
“The magistrate was within her rights, rather duty-bound, to apply the provisions of Section 327(2) (conducting in-camera proceedings in cases of rape and related offences) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. PC) to the proceedings of the case,” he said.
“The fact that a large crowd entered the courtroom, leaving no space for even the under-trial prisoners to be brought in added to the circumstances leading to the passing of the order,” the judge said. “I do not find any error, impropriety or illegality in the impugned order. Therefore, the revision petition is devoid of substance and is dismissed.”
Ms. Aggarwal passed the order after the proceedings got embroiled in a chaotic situation after a section of lawyers, unconnected with the case, opposed two advocates coming forward to appear for the accused in the case. The sessions court said that as per Section 327(2) Cr. PC, it was mandatory for the presiding officer to hold the proceedings in-camera in rape cases.
On the petitioner’s claim that lawyers and citizens have legitimate interest in the judicial proceedings relating to the case, the court said that under the general rule — Section 327(1) Cr. PC — every criminal court was expected to be an open court where public may be allowed access.
“But then, that rule does not confer any absolute right. It is subject to exceptions provided within the said clause, including on the factors of the capacity of the court hall to contain persons to an extent or even public generally, from the court room or building used by the court. The command of the law contained in Section 327(2) is than in such case (of rape), Section 327(1) Cr. PC would not apply and it is mandatory for the presiding judge or the magistrate to hold the proceedings in-camera,” Mr. Gauba said.
In a written reply filed on behalf of the Delhi Police, public prosecutor Rajiv Mohan said the revision petition was not maintainable and sought that it be dismissed.