Delhi gang-rape: Trial to continue in Delhi

New Delhi, Jan 29 (IANS) The trial of those accused in the gruesome Delhi gang-rape case will continue in the capital as the Supreme Court Tuesday dismissed a petition for its transfer out of Delhi, preferably to Mathura or Coimbatore.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramjit Sen dismissed the transfer petition upon the receipt of the sessions judge's report that the accused, on whose behalf the transfer petition was moved, does not want to be represented by advocate M.L. Sharma.

Rejecting the transfer petition, the court said the advocate has no locus standi to appear in the matter on behalf of Mukesh, one of the gang-rape accused.

In the course of the last hearing of the case, the apex court had asked the sessions judge, trying the Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape case, to ascertain as to whom the accused would like to engage as his counsel.

After pursuing the report by the sessions judge, the court gave to Sharma to read it for himself.

"All that you have cited does not say that even if an accused does not want to be represented by an advocate, can he still appear in the matter," Chief Justice Kabir said.

He was responding to Sharma citing a couple of earlier apex court decisions which, he said, allowed even a third party to implead itself in a case for the furtherance of justice.

"He (Mukesh) is under pressure and he is being tortured," Sharma told the court.

The situation arose after another advocate, V.K. Anand, told the court in the last hearing that it was he who actually represented the accused before the trial court.

The session's judge, in his report to the apex court, which was opened Tuesday in the courtroom, said the accused wanted to be represented by advocate Anand. Anand, in the course of the last hearing, said that he was not seeking any transfer of trial outside Delhi.

Sharma had moved the apex court on behalf of accused Mukesh seeking the transfer of trial in the case to either Mathura in Uttar Pradesh or Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu as the prevailing atmosphere in Delhi was not conducive for free and fair trial.

Seeking the transfer, the petition had contended that he was not expecting a free and fair trial as judiciary was under tremendous pressure because of personal interest shown by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit and others including union minister Jairam Ramesh and other important people.

It said that "due to political statements and personal interest shown by the chief minister as well as various cabinet ministers, the judiciary is under pressure to work against the Petitioner, therefore petitioner (seeks) the transfer (of trial) from Delhi to Mathura (UP) or any other state for fair trial and proceedings".

Besides the public pressure and unending public agitations, the petition had also drawn the attention of the top court to some of the statements made by the serving and retired judges of the higher judiciary seeking changes in the law for an expeditious trial of the rape accused.

The petition had said that the attitude of the police and jail authorities was totally biased against the petitioner.

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