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Chahal hearing bar on media
Maneesh Chhibber
High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 21
In a surprising move, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today refused entry to mediapersons for covering the ongoing case of contempt involving B.I.S. Chahal, media adviser to previous Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Today, a Full Bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice Vijender Kumar Jain was scheduled to continue the hearing, for which a large number of mediapersons both from the print and electronic media were present in the court to report the case.

However, when they tried to enter the courtroom of the Chief Justice, a police officer in civil dress, claiming to be the personal security officer of Chief Justice Jain, stopped the mediapersons from entering the court.

When asked, he said he had been directed by the Chief Justice himself not to allow “any reporter” from entering the courtroom. He even physically pushed some mediapersons away from the entrance to the courtroom.

When the matter was brought to the notice of High Court registrar (general) Nawab Singh, even he did not intervene in the matter.

Later, a number of lawyers present outside the courtroom of the Chief Justice also tried to make the PSO see reason but he remained adamant, repeatedly asserting that he had “instructions” from the Chief Justice to do so. When a lawyer asked him if the instructions were in the written format, the PSO refused to say anything.

Like all other courts in the country, the Punjab and Haryana High Court too does not allow any mediaperson with camera to enter the courtrooms. However, for a two-day period when B.K. Roy was the Chief Justice, no mediaperson has been ever refused entry into the courtrooms to witness the proceedings, except in those cases where the hearing is being held in-camera.

As for the contempt case involving Chahal, no order has ever been passed that it be heard in-camera.

When contacted, senior High Court officials said the PSO’s misbehaviour would be got inquired into and appropriate action taken.

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