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Gang-rape: Police want media coverage ban to stay

New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Police Wednesday told the Delhi High Court to continue the ban on media access to the trial in the Dec 16, 2012 Delhi gang-rape case.

Advocate Dayan Krishnan, appearing for the police, opposed a plea seeking access to the trial going on in a fast-track court in south Delhi, saying that "every rape case trial has to be in-camera".

Krishnan said there were several witnesses in the case and for their interest the trial should be held in-camera.

"Charges have been framed in the case. We have 80 witnesses and till now 11 have deposed and the trial is being carried out on a day-to-day basis," added Krishnan.

Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked Krishnan whether accredited journalists could be allowed to cover the court proceedings, to which he replied in the negative.

"Can you have some kind of calibrated access to allow accredited journalists at least one from each media," the court said.

The court posted the matter for Feb 28.

The fast-track trial court Jan 7 ordered in-camera trial of the case following unruly scenes that prevented the accused from being led into court. It also told the media not to report any news related to the case without its permission.

Police, in its report submitted to the high court, said that its advisory to media houses was a measure of "courtesy" as violation of the court-imposed ban on coverage could lead to registration of first information report against reporters.

The high court was hearing a plea filed by legal journalists saying their "fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression" was being violated.

"My right as a responsible media reporter is violated," said one of the petitioner against the advisory issued by police to media restraining them from publishing news related to the case.

The plea filed by advocate Meenakshi Lekhi said: "The role of police in the case is under suspicion from the day one, and passing a gag order (by trial judge) and advisory of police will come in the way of a fair trial."

"Media should be allowed so that people in the country could get to know what is going on behind the closed doors," the petition said.

"The braveheart victim has already expired and her father has already disclosed the identity and name to the media which has been published in the newspapers abroad and the social network sites. Therefore, the order to hold the proceedings in-camera was not warranted," the plea said.

Indo Asian News Service

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