The high court has been hearing appeals of the four accused and arguments on the death sentence on a daily basis in the sensational case of the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist who was brutally raped in 2012.
"We (defence counsel) are arguing now and I am expecting the verdict to come in the second week of January. I will try to complete my arguments next week and thereafter the court's holidays will start. Then we have to give fact findings, Supreme Court's judgments in related cases and conclude it," M.L. Sharma, defence counsel of two of the accused, Mukesh and Pawan Gupta, told IANS.
Another advocate, A.P. Singh, representing the other two accused, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur, told IANS that the verdict in the case "can be expected in January next year".
"Prosecution completed their arguments. Now defence counsel are arguing. So I think the verdict can be expected in January end," Singh added.
But Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan is not so hopeful.
"The high court decided to hear the case on a day to day basis. Prosecution has completed its arguments in the case. But looking into the conduct of defence counsel, I can't say now how much time it will take for the judgment," Krishnan told IANS.
He was referring to Sharma's alleged tactics to delay the proceedings by seeking repeated adjournments, which the court had noted.
Sharma had earlier also objected to the daily hearing of the case.
Sharing their anguish about the delay in the verdict, the parents of the victim told IANS: "We want the culprits to be hanged as soon as possible."
A Delhi court Sep 13 had awarded death sentence to four of the rapists -- Mukesh, 26, Akshay Thakur, 28, Pawan Gupta, 19, and Vinay Sharma, 20 -- on 11 counts, including gang rape, murder, dacoity, unnatural offences and destruction of evidence.
The court later sent the case to the high court for confirmation of the death sentence.
The young woman was brutally gang raped by six people, including a minor, in a moving bus in December last year. The men also robbed the victim and her male friend and then threw them out in the night to die.
While the minor has been sent to a reform home for three years, one of the main accused committed suicide in prison.
A division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani started hearing the case Nov 1 on a daily basis, "as sword is also hanging on their (convicts') heads".
The Supreme Court, however, asked the high court Nov 12 not to rush through with the hearing after the defence counsel moved the apex court seeking copies of judgement and other trial records in Hindi for the convicts, which the high court had rejected.
But the high court observed that Sharma was misleading and hiding facts from the apex court.
Asking whether he was miffed with the high court's decision to hear arguments on a daily basis, Sharma, has now said that daily hearing would be "good for the convicts".
"It is good in some way for the convicts. Daily hearing will help in recollection of memory of court. My clients are innocents and have been framed in the case by the police, that's all I want to prove," he said.
A.P. Singh, who had also objected to the daily hearings, said: "So many rape cases have been decided by the high court and I have never seen day-to-day hearings of any such cases. So what is so special about this case? The day-to-day hearing is not fair."
(Garima Tyagi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 15-12-2013)