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Report No. 198

(Q) 12. Should the public and media be allowed at such trials subject to prohibition against publication? What should be the quantum of punishment for breach of this condition?

As per section 327 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, all criminal trials are to be held in open court, where any person can have access to the room or building where the trial is being conducted. But the proviso below this sub-section empowers the Magistrate or the Judge, to prohibit public generally, or any person from access to the place of trial. Now the question is, whether public and media be allowed in such trials where anonymity to witness is granted; or whether they should be prohibited? Another point is, if the media and public are allowed, whether there should be prohibition against publication of court proceedings?

Out of 40 responses, 28 (7 State Governments, 3 Judges, 7 senior police officials and 11 others) are of the view that in cases where anonymity to witnesses is granted, public and media should not be allowed to remain present during the trial.

Remaining 12 (3 State Governments, 3 police officials and 6 others) are of the view that media and public may be allowed to remain present in such trials. However, Govt. of NCT Delhi has opined that there should be prohibition to carry cameras, in such trials. State Government of Bihar is of the view that only public should be allowed and not media. In respect of prohibition from publication of court proceedings, all respondents are of the view that there should be prohibition in respect of publication of court proceedings.

Most of the respondents are of the view that there should be severe punishment for breach of condition. In respect of quantum of punishment, there is no unanimity. Each respondent has suggested different quantum of punishment.

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