Journalists File Petition in Bombay HC Against Gag Order in Sohrabuddin Case Trial

Nine journalists from national dailies and news websites have filed the petition, saying the gag order was "illegal and not tenable in law".

Bombay high court. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bombay high court. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi: A group of journalists on Tuesday petitioned the Bombay high court challenging last month’s order by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court which gagged the media from reporting on the trial in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

On an application by the accused persons, the CBI court passed an order which prohibited the media from publishing or printing or telecasting information pertaining to the trial proceedings.

Challenging the gag order, nine journalists from national dailies and news channels have filed the petition,which they have described as “illegal and not tenable in law”.

The Wire‘s founding editor Sidharth Bhatia is one of the petitioners. Others include senior journalists Sunil Baghel, Sharmeen Hakim and Neeta Kolhatkar.

The petitioners have said that the gag order has become a major obstacle in the way of reporters discharging their duties. The petition has emphasised that that there was “nothing to be gained” by barring reportage on the encounter case.

“The trial court ought to have considered that the case involves an element of public interest and our populace, therefore, has the right to know what transpires in the trial,” the petition stated.

“The accused persons, almost all of whom are former police officers, are standing trial on the charges that they engaged in fake encounter killings in and around Gujarat,” it said.

The petitioners have said that all reporters can not be painted with the same brush and gagged on grounds of  “the mere possibility that some journalist may perhaps carry out some irresponsible reporting”.

The petition will be heard in court on January 12, 2018.

A total of 23 accused are facing trial for their involvement in the alleged fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausar Bi and their associate Tulsidas Prajapati in Gujarat in November 2005.

The case was later transferred to the CBI for investigations and the trial was shifted to Mumbai.

(With inputs from PTI)

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