Gang-rape case: Court appoints amicus curiae

New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) A fast track court hearing the Dec 16, 2012 gang-rape case Thursday appointed a lawyer as amicus curiae for its assistance and making up for the absence of accused Mukesh’s defence counsel who has ignored warnings not to skip hearings.

Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna after taking into note that Mukesh’s counsel M.L. Sharma was not appearing regularly in the daily trial decided to appoint advocate Rajeev Jain as an amicus curiae to assist the court in future.

“I feel appropriate to appoint amicus curiae to assist the court in future. I had inquired from the accused Mukesh Wednesday if he intends to have any other lawyer from Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and he replied in negative,” said the judge in the five-page order.

“Looking at the fact that the counsel of accused Mukesh, M.L. Sharma is not appearing regularly and that since the trial is being conducted on a day-to-day basis, I feel it appropriate to appoint amicus curiae to assist the court in future in case such a situation arises.”

The judge said there was a need for appointment of amicus curiae to represent Mukesh as his counsel was not appearing regularly in the trial.

In the last three days, Sharma did not appear in the trial.

Sharma Thursday appeared in court around 12.45 p.m. to inform the judge and file an application that he would not be present in the gang-rape case proceedings at 2 p.m. as he had another proceeding to attend in the Delhi High Court.

The judge, however, told him to be present in the hearing which was scheduled to start at 2 p.m.

Sharma has been facing the court’s wrath for seeking adjournments and remaining absent from in the trial.

Appointing the amicus curiae, the court in its order referred to Section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which empowers the court to dispense with the cross-examination of the witnesses in the absence of the counsel.

The court said that April 16 and 17 also Sharma did not appear in court nor did he send any of his associates to inform about him.

“Today also, instead of cross-examining the witnesses, he had appeared at 12.45 p.m. and filed an application for adjournment and thereafter left the court, despite being asked to appear at 2 p.m.,” the judge said.

It also disallowed the plea of Sharma saying that under proviso of sub section 2 of Section 309 of the CrPC, the engagement of the pleader of a party in another court shall not be a ground for adjournment.

A 23-year-old woman was brutally tortured and gang-raped in a moving bus Dec 16, 2012 by Mukesh and 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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