New Delhi, Jan 7: The Metropolitan Magistrate Court here has ordered an in-camera trial in the Delhi gangrape-cum-murder case and directed the media not to cover the proceedings. Reports say that the next hearing in the case has been fixed for Jan 10.
Apart from lawyers, reporters and onlookers thronged the court today. Seeing the crowd, Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal expressed unhappiness and observed that there was hardly any space for the five accused in the courtroom. She then went to her chamber and refused to hear the case till the court was cleared of all those who have nothing to do with the case.
The drama was heightened when a couple of advocates pointed out that the Delhi Police has no authority to issue an advisory to journalists not to report the proceedings. Neeraj Kumar and Krishan Nautiyal were arguing on behalf of journalists.
Another lawyer Mohan Lal Sharma cited a request by the family of the accused and said, "I should be allowed to meet them here to sign the vakalatnama." The magistrate told him that the accused's signature on the vakalatnama should be obtained at the Tihar Jail where they are lodged.
The Delhi Police has filed a charge sheet against the five men who raped the 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus here on Dec 16, 2012. However, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma have already expressed a desire to turn witness.
The bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh and bus cleaner Akshay Thakur are the other three accused in the case. Unlike Pawan and Vinay, Ram and Mukesh have sought help from legal aid counsel to defend themselves.
The sixth accused will shortly appear before the Juvenile Justice Board as he is supposedly still some months away from attaining the age of 18. Investigators are not convinced by the date of birth mentioned in his school leaving certificate. They have asked the school's principal to clarify. Bone density tests may also be held to find out if he is indeed a minor.
The five accused have been booked under sections 302, 307, 376(2)(g), 377, 395, 394, 396, 201, 120-B, 412 and 34 of the IPC.
Top level probe into friend's charges
Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry has ordered a probe into the allegation of the victim's friend that police response to their distress call after the incident was slow.
A joint-secretary level officer of the Ministry will investigate the veracity of the claim by the software engineer that even after reaching the spot here on the night of Dec 16, the police were arguing over jurisdiction of the case and were hesitant to lift the victim, losing crucial time, a senior Home Ministry official said today.
The probe will also look into the counter-claim by the Delhi Police and check the log books of the Police Control Room vans which came to the spot where the victim and her friend were dumped by the six men after the gangrape.