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CIMA Gallary

SC nudge on torture claim

New Delhi, Jan. 23: The Supreme Court today asked the fast-track court trying the December 16 gang rape case to examine, if necessary, the claim that one of the accused, Mukesh, was being subjected to torture in judicial custody.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, J. Chelameshwar and Vikramjit Sen also asked the sessions judge heading the fast-track court to examine the claims of two advocates, N. Rajaraman and V.K. Anand, both of whom said they were representing Mukesh in the trial court.

Manoharlal Sharma, a Supreme Court lawyer appearing for Mukesh on behalf of Rajaraman, said Tihar jail authorities were not permitting him to meet his client. He also alleged that Mukesh was being subjected to physical torture by the “police and other authorities”.

The apex court is hearing a petition filed by Sharma who, along with Rajaraman, has sought transfer of the case to Mathura or Coimbatore. He has argued that a fair trial is not possible in Delhi amid the public outrage over the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in a moving bus.

Anand told the court he had filed a vakalatnama for Mukesh in the trial court that is to take up framing of charges from tomorrow. Rajaraman said he has been engaged by the family of the accused.

A vakalatnama is a sworn statement of an advocate obtaining authority from the client to represent him/her in a case.

“Under these circumstances, we direct the sessions judge to ascertain from Mukesh which counsel he wants to engage to appear in the transfer petition. Let him decide which counsel he wants. In the event the accused makes any complaint (of torture) the magistrate shall send a report on the manner in which he is being treated in custody. Accused will make a complaint to the sessions judge. Accused will be at liberty to inform the sessions judge whether he still wants to retain Rajaraman as counsel,” the bench said