City anchor: Which of the two is your lawyer, trial court to ask gangrape accused

It turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax in the Supreme Court on Wednesday when it was expected to hear and decide a petition by one of the six Delhi gangrape accused to shift the trial out of the city.

Following an adjournment, a half-hour hearing and a verbal spat between them, the two lawyers for the accused in the case ended up sending the plea back to the trial court.

With the help of Mukesh, who has sought transfer of trial by filing a petition in the Supreme Court, the trial court will now have to ascertain which of the two lawyers has been authorised by the accused to represent him in court.

According to an order by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, the trial court will question Mukesh — he has purportedly signed vakalatnamas in favour of both advocates — on who he wants as his lawyer.

Once Mukesh decides on the lawyer, the trial court will ask him if he really wanted the transfer petition heard by the apex court, that there was no duress on him in leading this plea. The trial judge will then send a report to the Supreme Court which will take up the matter next Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, advocates M L Sharma and V K Anand showed up in the Supreme Court, each claiming to be "validly" representing Mukesh.

The bench asked Anand if he had any authorisation from the Advocate-On-Record (AOR) who had filed the transfer petition in the apex court. When Anand failed to show the authorisation, the bench directed him to come with a no-objection from the AOR.

It then asked Sharma if he was being assisted by the AOR to prove his bonafide. To this, Sharma said that the AOR was stuck in a traffic jam. The bench asked both lawyers to be prepared to prove their bonafide and adjourned the matter until 2 pm.

Around 2 pm, both lawyers turned up for the hearing with the AOR standing next to Sharma. The duo also submitted letters of authorisation from Mukesh, with his thumb impressions on it. "It seems the left thumb impression is of the same person," the court observed.

The lawyers then got into a verbal spat. While Anand said he did not want the trial to be shifted outside Delhi, Sharma alleged that Anand obtained the permission after torturing the accused.

The squabbling prompted the bench to say "we can't turn this place into some sort of tamasha."

The court then dictated its first order. It asked the Sessions court to ascertain the veracity of the statements of the two lawyers, so that it could go ahead and hear the transfer petition.

The court also asked for vetting their conduct under the Advocate's Act.

But as soon as the bench finished dictating its order, Anand got up and said his authorisation was only to represent Mukesh in the trial and that he did not have to do anything with the apex court's matter.

"Then why were we hearing you if you don't have to do anything with the transfer petition. It is strange. You led us up the garden path," said an upset bench as it cancelled the first order. In the final order, the court asked the trial judge to file a report after verifying from the accused who his counsel was and whether he wanted his transfer petition heard.

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