Gang-rape: Defence lawyers told to be punctual

New Delhi, April 1 : The Delhi gang-rape case hearing in a fast track court here was Monday delayed by over half hour due to absence of some defence lawyers who were warned by the judge to be punctual.

Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna expressed displeasure after he had to wait for more than half hour for accused Vinay Sharma's counsel A.K. Singh and accused Pawan Gupta's counsel Vivek Sharma to appear in court. The hearing finally started at 2 p.m.

"Where are the counsel? I have been waiting for them for so long. They know the court's timing and still they are not here... I am going to write a letter to director Delhi legal aid authority to provide new counsel... They are taking it for granted," the judge said earlier.

When advocate M.L. Sharma, appearing for accused Mukesh, told the court to allow him to call the lawyers of accused Sharma and Gupta, the judge said: "No need to telephone... if (they are) not serious. They should realise their duty and responsibilities."

When the counsel reached the court around 2.40 p.m., the judge asked them to be punctual and not delay the matter.

"Is this the time to come? Come on time. I can't keep waiting," said the court.

The court order said: "The matter was listed for 2 p.m. but counsel appeared late. Counsel are requested to appear in time."

Advocate Vivek Sharma cross-examined two prosecution witnesses in the court.

Advocate M.L. Sharma, appearing for accused Mukesh -- brother of co-accused and bus driver Ram Singh who allegedly committed suicide in jail -- told the court that he would cross-examine the prosecution witnesses Tuesday.

Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan, who brought four witnesses in the court, said that if witnesses were present in the court the defence counsel must cross-examine them that day.

Citing a ruling of the Supreme Court, Krishnan said lawyers can not refuse to cross-examine witness.

Apart from accused Mukesh, Sharma, Gupta, accused Akshay Thakur is also facing trial in the fast track court. Proceedings against another minor accused are being held before the Juvenile Justice Board.

A 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist was brutally gang-raped by the accused in a moving bus Dec 16, 2012. She died Dec 29 in a Singapore hospital where she was taken for treatment.

--IANS (Posted on 01-04-2013)

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