A group of journalists moved the Bombay High Court on Tuesday against an order by a Central Bureau of Investigation court last month, which barred the media from reporting on the trial in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
The writ petition, filed by nine journalists, asked for the order to be quashed as it was “bad in law”, “illegal” and a “major road block” for them in discharging their duties.
Scroll.in Editor Naresh Fernandes is one of the petitioners. Among the other petitioners are journalists from The Times of India, Mumbai Mirror, The Indian Express, The Free Press Journal and The Wire.
The Bombay High Court will hear the petition on January 12.
The court does not have the power to gag the press from reporting trial proceedings not held in camera, the petition said. It highlighted that there was “nothing to be gained” by gagging reportage on the Sohrabuddin case now as it had already got extensive media coverage over the years.
The journalists said the case involves “a large element of public interest”, and people have “the right to know what transpires in the trial”. They said it was the nature of their duty and work ethics to report information for the public about court proceedings.
On November 29, a special CBI court in Mumbai, which was hearing the fake encounter case, banned the media from reporting on the proceedings of the case until further orders. The court issued the directive based on a request by the team of defence lawyers.
The defence had argued that publishing details of the trial would affect the security of the prosecution lawyers, the accused and the defence team. It also claimed that there had been instances of misreporting in the past, which had “prejudiced” both sides in previous cases.
The petition by the defence had come soon after media reports raised doubts about the death of Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya, who was presiding over the case until he died in December 2014.
In their petition filed on Tuesday, the journalists said all reporters could not be painted with the same brush and could not gagged based on “the mere possibility that some journalist may perhaps carry out some irresponsible reporting”.