Delhi gang-rape: Accused Mukesh dumps absentee counsel

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Mukesh, an accused in the Dec 16, 2012 gang rape, Saturday changed his counsel M.L. Sharma who failed to appear in a fast track court here for the fourth successive hearing.

Advocate Sharma has been replaced by advocate Rajeev Jain, appointed as an amicus curiae to assist the court April 18, after the accused moved an application.

Mukesh asked Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna he wanted to change his counsel and he be allowed to be represented by advocate Rajeev Jain.

Seeking the court’s permission to change his counsel, Mukesh told the court: “I decided to appoint him (Jain) as my counsel when I got to know Sharma has not reached the court today also.”

Judge Khanna accepted the request of Mukesh and appointed Jain as his counsel. Jain will defend the accused as a government-funded lawyer.

The court in its order said: “Mukesh filed an application bearing his signature and thumb impression stating that he intends to change his counsel and wished to engage Rajeev Jain as his counsel.”

“On enquiry, he said that he is moving the application voluntarily. Amicus curie in this case, in view of request of accused Mukesh, may appear on behalf of accused as amicus at state expenses. Hence, M.L. Sharma, advocate stands discharged at the request of accused Mukesh,” the court said.

The court April 18 after taking into note that Mukesh’s counsel M.L.

Sharma had not been appearing regularly in the daily trial and the court April 18 appointed Rajeev Jain as an amicus curiae.

The same day, the court asked Mukesh if he intended to be provided a free lawyer from the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) but he replied in the negative.

Sharma has not been appearing in court for trial in the last four hearings.

A 23-year-old woman was brutally tortured and gang-raped in a moving bus Dec 16, 2012 by Mukesh, four other men and a juvenile. The woman later died in a Singapore hospital.

The juvenile is facing proceedings before a Juvenile Justice Board, while the other accused were put up for trial in the fast track court. One of the accused, Ram Singh, is dead.

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