Lawyer seeks judge's recusal in Delhi gang rape case

New Delhi, Oct 9 (IANS) A lawyer representing two convicts in the Dec 16 gang rape Wednesday sought recusal of a Delhi High Court judge from hearing the case, contending that the judge had earlier denied him relief in the case. The judge, however, rejected the plea.

M.L. Sharma, who will be appearing for convicts Pawan Gupta and Mukesh, asked Justice Pratibha Rani to recuse herself from hearing the case as in April she had dismissed his plea for quashing the FIR against the accused persons on various grounds.

Sharma told the division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani that he has filed Vakalatnama on behalf of two convicts and will now represent Pawan and Mukesh.

Advocates V.K. Anand and Vivek Sharma who were representing the two convicts withdrew from the case Oct 8.

Justice Rani, however, rejected Sharma's contention saying she will not recuse herself from the case and he can move a petition seeking transfer of the case.

"Change of counsel doesn't mean change of bench," said Justice Rani.

"If you want the bench should be changed, file an petition for transfer before the Chief Justice. There is no question of a bench partner to recuse from hearing the case...There is nothing personal. Unless it is taken away by the Chief Justice, we will not change," the judge said.

The bench Tuesday issued fresh warrants against two of the four men who have been awarded the death penalty in Dec 16, 2012, gang rape case and asked them to appear before court Oct 9.

A 23-year-old woman was brutally raped on a moving bus by a gang of six men, including a juvenile. The attackers then threw her and her male companion out of the vehicle, without clothes, to die by roadside on a cold December night. The woman died of grave intestinal injuries Dec 29 at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she was airlifted for specialised treatment.

The court posted the matter for hearing Oct 21.

One of the six accused was found dead in a cell in Delhi's Tihar Jail while the juvenile involved in the crime was Aug 31 sent by the Juvenile Justice Board to a reform home for three years, the maximum term under the juvenile law.

The trial court Sep 13 awarded death sentence to Mukesh (26), Akshay Thakur (28), Pawan Gupta (19) and Vinay Sharma (20), and referred the case to the high court for confirmation of their sentence.

Under the law, a trial court has to refer each death penalty case to the high court for confirmation of the punishment.

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