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Report No. 200

Indian statutes have created some exception to open justice:

In our 198 th Report on 'Witness Identity Protection and Witness Protection Programmes' (2006) and in the Consultation Paper (August 2004) which preceded it, there was an exhaustive discussion of these statutes which are exceptions to the principle of open justice which is also part of our law. We have referred to the statutes dealing with sexual offences and terrorists where witness identity protection or in camera proceedings are held as valid exceptions to the principle of open justice.

We have pointed out that right from the time when Scott v. Scott was decided in 1913 AC 417 (463), 'open justice' has been the law in our country. We have also referred to the decisions which stated that that principle of open justice has exceptions where the exception can be justified by yet another 'overriding' principle. The needs of a fair trial in the administration of justice is one such. We have also referred elaborately in the said Reports that the right to freedom of speech is also not absolute in our country. We do not propose to refer to all that literature and to comparative law to which we have referred in those Reports.

Suffice it to say that just as there is need to protect fairness in criminal proceedings by bringing in provisions for 'witness identity protection', there is also need to protect the rights of the accused for a fair criminal trial.

Trial by Media free speech and fair trial under Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 Back

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