After a city court ordered in-camera hearings and curbed media from attending and reporting proceedings of the Dec 16 gang-rape case, journalists urged the Delhi High Court to allow them to cover the case.
Pleading before a division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain, advocate Meenakshi Lekhi told the court that journalists should be allowed to report the case for the "fair and transparent trial".
Lekhi, representing legal journalists, said that freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right and it should not be violated. "Its their (journalists) duty to report the case, as now, its not the gang-rape case. Its a case of murder."
She said that from the media has been reporting the case "responsibly" from day one and has not revealed the name of the victim.
The trial court Jan 7 had 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.
Lekhi said that it was a sensitive and crucial case and people have right to know about it through the media. "Passing a gag order will come in the way of a fair trial and people who are connected to the case would not know what is going on behind the doors," Lekhi said.
A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice V.K. Jain refused to pass any order. However, it said an application can be filed in this regard and the court would hear the matter then.
"This is a matter of public interest. The girl has died. It is now a case of murder-cum-gang rape. In a murder case, open trial is allowed," Lekhi told the court during the hearing.
She also termed "illegal" the advisory of police to the media restraining them from publishing news related to the case.
"Media till now has handled this matter responsibly and carefully. It is because on of media the case has been highlighted and united the nation," said Lekhi, who will file an application Thursday before the high court on behalf of journalists.
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