A Delhi court Monday ordered in-camera trial of the Dec 16 gang-rape following unruly scenes that prevented the accused from being led in. It also told the media not to report any news related to the case without its permission.
Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal said: "An unprecedented situation arises when members of bar and public not connected with the case have started converging in the courtroom..."
She said the courtroom was packed and it created a lot of disturbance. Appeals to people to wait outside to let the proceedings go on without disturbance had not been heeded, she added.
According to Aggarwal, the crowds were "occupying every inch of space of the courtroom, even next to the space allotted to the readers and stenographer".
"It has become impossible to proceed in the case... The lock-up in-charge said he is unable to bring (the accused) before the court for the want of safe passage in the courtroom."
Invoking the Criminal Procedure Code for in-camera proceedings, the magistrate quoted the public prosecutor as saying that he feared for the safety of the accused.
The prosecution also moved an application for an in-camera trial. Aggarwal conceded the request "keeping in view the situation".
She added: "The proceedings ... including the inquiry and trial can be held in-camera. Hence, all public persons, and every bar member in the court are directed to vacate the courtroom, except the accused, public prosecutor and investigation officer."
"I am also invoking 327 (3) CrPc and it shall not be lawful to print and publish any matter in media without court permission."
Meanwhile, the court took on record the applications filed by some counsel to be appointed as amicus curiae in the case.
The court directed them to approach the accused and get the signature of the accused. The matter has been posted Thursday.
Five of the accused in the gang-rape of a 23-year-old had reached the Saket court premises from the Tihar Jai but could not be presented before the metropolitan magistrate as her room was packed with visitors.
The sixth accused, who is 17 years and six months old according to his school certificate, will be taken to a juvenile justice board.
Around 40 security personnel also were deployed inside the courtroom.
A controversy has arisen over who will defend the five accused, who are accused of gang-raping and torturing the victim in a moving bus. She died of multiple-organ failure in Singapore Dec 29.
Some lawyers Monday said they were willing to represent the accused but others expressed their anguish.
One advocate told the court that he was approached by the family of the accused, asking him to defend them.
"I was approached by the family of accused. I should be allowed to meet them here to sign the 'vakalatnama' (contract with the lawyer)," said the advocate.
To this, the judge said he would not be allowed to meet the accused and could go to Tihar Jail to have the papers signed.