An Indian magistrate has barred the media and public from the trial of five men accused in the gang rape and murder of a young student. It amounts to a media blackout in a case in which many people have no faith justice will be done.
The prosecution asked that the media be barred, and Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal agreed, the Washington Post reported.
The magistrate said, "The courtroom has become jam-packed with lots of disturbance created from different nooks and corners," observed the court. "It has become impossible to proceed in the case. I am passing order for in-camera proceeding. It shall not be lawful to print and publish any article in media without court permission,” the Times of India reported.
Certainly it was not the first time Delhi courts had dealt with a high profile case, and should have been prepared for crowds. Satellite trucks have been gathered outside for days. A video feed, for example, could be provided at another location.
Police also are filing charges against the victim’s male friend and Zee TV News for an interview in which he said the police appeared disinterested in the case and didn’t offer help immediately after the rape Dec. 16.
The prosecution would be under an Indian law supposed aimed at protecting the identity of rape victims.
But the rape victim, identified by her father as Jyoti Singh Pandey, 23, died in Sinapore where she had been flown for special treatments. Critics say the government didn’t want her to die in Delhi.
Her father also may face prosecution, although more than 10 hours after his interview with family photos was published by Sunday People of London he said had not wanted the name used. It is unclear whether that will get him off the hook.
Five adults, include the bus driver of the vehicle that the couple was lured into and driven around New Delhi for more than two years, are charged. A sixth juvenile is also charged. The five appeared in court Monday and after a brief hearing were ordered to return Thursday.
The case has led to calls for stronger rape laws. The justice system has a record of treating rapists leniently, and delaying their prosecution for years. Some members of the government are accused rapists.
The nation’s Crime Records Bureau says one woman is raped every 20 minutes in the world’s largest democracy.
Wikipedia reports: "Rape in India has been described by Radha Kumar as one of India's most common crimes against women and by the UN's human-rights chief as a 'national problem.'"
Feminists and sociologists dispute that concealing the names of rape victims helps them, and argue it helps the rapists. They say there is no shame in being raped, and hiding the names appears to make them somehow guilty.