Gang-rape case: Defence delaying proceedings, complains prosecution

New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) The Delhi Police counsel Tuesday told the fast track court trying the Dec 16 gang-rape case that the lawyer for two of the accused was “delaying and disrupting proceedings” in order to prevent a quick trial. The defence lawyer was also pulled up by the court.

Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said the advocate of accused Mukesh and Akshay should not delay the trial and “if he continues to do so, an amicus curiae may be appointed by the court”.
Krishnan’s statement came after Mukesh and Akshay’s advocate M.L. Sharma filed an application saying he does not get “enough time” to spend with his clients and he needs one day prior to cross-examining the prosecution witnesses.
He also said that his clients were not provided copies of the charge sheet in Hindi and were even not aware of the charges against them.
Filing its reply in the court, the prosecution said: “The present application is part of a series of applications being moved by counsel with the objective of delaying and disrupting proceedings which are going on day-to-day in the special fast track court.”
Krishnan added that the Hindi version of the documents including a charge-sheet have already been provided to the accused when Sharma was appearing for Mukesh and is on record.
Sharma had replaced V.K. Anand, who was earlier appearing for Ram Singh and his brother Mukesh, after the former was found dead in jail, having allegedly committed suicide.
The prosecution said the present application “cannot be a ground to delay and disrupt proceedings, especially keeping in mind the fact that almost 63 witnesses have been examined” so far in the case.
“The Delhi High Court Rules, practice in the trial of criminal cases … requires evidence must be in English. The language of the court is English,” said Krishnan seeking dismissal of Sharma’s application.
He said the court has already been granting time to counsel to meet the accused in lock-ups and even in jail.
“I don’t want delay in trial, the counsel can meet them… I don’t have any problem in that,” the police counsel added.
“If he does not want to cross-examine the witnesses, court can appoint amicus curiae… He (Sharma) can not deny cross-examination of witnesses. Trial can not be delayed. Either he has to cross-examine or court to appoint amicus curiae,” Krishnan said.

During the hearing, Sharma questioned the speedy trial of the case, asking why the court is so expeditiously trying this case.
“It is the first fast-track court which is holding day-to-day proceedings to complete trial anyhow… So that outcry and agitation of the people could be stopped,” he said, to which the court asked him to argue properly as in every fast-track court proceedings are held day-to-day.
Sharma argued that the trial should not be conducted so expeditiously. Claiming there are many cases of rape and other cases where the trial has not yet begun even after five to six years of the crime, he sought to know what the urgency was in this case.
Objecting to Sharma’s arguments, Krishnan said: “The court is bound to conduct fair trial. In every trial the proceedings should be speedy and once it begins, it should be day-to-day. And the trial in every rape case shall be completed as expeditiously as possible. No adjournment shall be granted.”
“Where witnesses are present in the court, counsel of accused cannot say he does not want to conduct cross-examination,” he added.
The court, meanwhile, told Sharma that it is his duty to make his clients understand about the case if they do not understand English.
“It is the duty of lawyer to make the accused understand the proceedings and details of case in Hindi. Otherwise what are you doing here? Don’t delay the trial,” the judge said.
The court further posted the matter for March 28 and will pass the order on the application of Sharma asking police to provide the charge-sheet in Hindi.
The court will also hear the arguments on bail plea of accused Vinay Sharma saying he was a B.A. first year student and that incarceration was affecting his studies.