SC dismisses plea, gangrape trial will be held in Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed on procedural grounds the petition to shift the trial in December 16 gangrape case outside Delhi. The trial will continue in Delhi.

Lending credence to a report by the trial judge over the contradictory claims of two lawyers to represent one of the six accused and the petitioner in the case, Mukesh, a bench led by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir dismissed the plea.

The court pointed out that Mukesh had "totally denied" his authorisation in favour of advocate M L Sharma.

Sharma had filed the petition on behalf of Mukesh in the apex court, seeking transfer of trial. Sharma had argued that "strong public sentiments" and "bias" against Mukesh would not allow a free and fair trial in Delhi.

But when the matter came up for hearing, another lawyer, V K Anand, showed up in court claiming Mukesh had authorised him for representation and not Sharma.

Amid conflicting claims, the bench last week sent the matter to the trial judge, directing that Mukesh be asked which of two lawyers was his valid representative. The report submitted before the apex court by the trial judge said Mukesh had named Anand as his lawyer.

Sharma insisted on producing a "fresh vakalatnama", which he claimed was signed by Mukesh a day before in Tihar Jail, asking him to present his case in the Supreme Court.

"We will not go by any vakalatnama anymore. We will go strictly by your authority to represent the accused, and he has categorically denied your authority. He has denied your authority in the trial court and also in this court," the bench said, rejecting Sharma's request.

Sharma then pleaded that he be allowed to argue as an individual, given that Code of Criminal Procedure allows him to express his views before the court as an independent person in the interest of justice.

... contd.

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