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Report No. 198

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

So far as the victim-witness known to the accused is concerned, who gives evidence from a different room through closed-circuit television is concerned, there is no need to exclude the public or media inasmuch there is no question of witness anonymity involved. The accused knows the victim. Of course in the case of sexual offences section 327 requires in camera hearing and in the case of juveniles, the statute require in camera proceedings. Barring such cases where the victim is known to the accused, it is not necessary to exclude the public or the media.

We recommend, in the case of victims/witnesses not known to the accused, in as much as question of witness identity is involved, it is necessary to exclude the public and media from both the witness-room as well as the Courtroom. Such exclusion in the interests of administration of justice and preserving the privacy of witnesses and protecting them from danger to their life or property, will be valid and not hit by Art. 14 or Art. 19 (1) of the Constitution of India. In case of victims not known to the accused, it is not necessary to exclude the public or the media.

Such exclusion is provided in section 12(3) of the Draft Bill dealing with evidence at trial of witnesses and victims who are granted anonymity. There is no need for such a provision in section 13 which deals with evidence at trial.

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