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Court orders in-camera trial in gang-rape case

 New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS): A Delhi court on Monday ordered in-camera proceedings in the December 16 gang-rape case following the "unprecedented situation" in the courtroom with crowds of reporters, lawyers, security personnel and onlookers. The court also restrained the media from reporting any news related to the case without its permission.

Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal said: "An unprecedented situation arises when members of bar and public persons not connected with the case also have started converging the courtroom No. 207 where the present matter is going on since 12 noon."

"The courtroom has become jampacked 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."

Five of the six men accused in the gang-rape of a 23-year-old had arrived in the Saket district court premises here but could not be presented before the metropolitan magistrate as the courtroom was too crowded. The sixth accused, who is 17 years and six months old according to his school certificates, will be presented before a juvenile justice board.

The court then said it would not hear the case unless the crowd dispersed. The metropolitan magistrate said that there was no space in the courtroom to present the five accused and left for her chamber.

Around 40 security personnel also were deployed inside the courtroom for security.

Controversy has also arisen over who will defend the five accused - the sixth is a juvenile - alleged to have gang-raped and tortured the young physiotherapy intern in a moving bus on Dec 16. She died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

Some lawyers on Monday said they were willing to represent the accused but others expressed their anguish.

One advocate told the court that he was approached by the family of the accused, asking him to defend them. "I was approached by the family of accused, I should be allowed to meet them here to sign the 'vakalatnama' (contract with the lawyer)," said the advocate.

To this, the judge said he would not be allowed to meet the accused and could go to Tihar Jail to sign the papers.

The incident has caused widespread rage and protests all over the nation, with protests being staged in several major cities, mainly in Delhi.

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