Repeated failure of one of the defence counsels to appear for the December 16 gangrape trial prompted the fast-track court to appoint an amicus curiae on Thursday.
Appointing Advocate Rajeev Jain as amicus curiae,the court noted that there was a need for an amicus curiae to represent accused Mukesh since his lawyer M L Sharma had not appeared for the trial several times.
I had asked Mukesh if he wanted any other lawyer from Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) to defend him,but he refused. Since M L Sharma has not been appearing regularly and since the trial is being conducted on a day-to-day basis,I feel it is appropriate to appoint an amicus curiae to assist the court if such a situation arises again, Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna said in his order.
Sharma has not attended court for the past three days on grounds that he was either held up in the Supreme Court,where the transfer petition of the gangrape case was listed,or at the Delhi High Court for the hearing of related cases.
Sharma arrived ahead of schedule on Thursday to inform the court that he could not be present on account of another hearing at the Delhi High Court.
Khanna,in his order,referred to Section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which empowers the court to dispense with the cross-examination of witnesses in the absence of the counsel.
Referring to the order of March 28,Khanna said despite Sharmas absence,one more opportunity,in the interest of justice,was granted to him to cross-examine the witness.
However,Sharma failed to appear in court again on April 16 and 17 and did not send any of his associates to inform the court about his absence,the judge said.
Even today,instead of cross-examining the witnesses,he appeared at 12.45 pm,filed an application for adjournment and then left the court,despite being asked to appear at 2.00 pm, Khanna said.
Disallowing Sharma under proviso of Sub-Section 2 of Section 309 of the CrPC,which refers to the engagement of the defence counsel of a party in another court,Khanna said this shall not be a ground for adjournment.
Further,he ordered that the cross-examination of the two witnesses present in the court were closed on behalf of accused as the evidence given by the two witnesses were general and had been extensively cross examined by the counsels of the other accused.