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SC rejects gang rape transfer petition

New Delhi, Jan. 29: The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea to transfer out of Delhi the trial relating to the December 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old paramedical student.

The apex court passed the order after going through a report — submitted by the sessions judge of the Saket special fast-track court conducting trial in the case — which said petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma had been given no authority by Mukesh, an accused, to file the transfer petition.

“Your authority to appear has been fully denied,” a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justices Anil Dave and Vikramjit Sen observed, rejecting advocate Sharma’s application to shift the trial to Mathura or Coimbatore or any other place on the ground that it was vitiated by public outrage.

The bench said Mukesh had told the sessions judge that he would like to have another advocate, V.K. Anand, to represent him, so Sharma had no locus standi to appear in the case.

The apex court also rejected Sharma’s argument that even if Mukesh had not endorsed his application, any aggrieved citizen could file a petition for transfer of the case. He cited top court judgments in the K. Anbazhagam vs J. Jayalalithaa case and the Zahir Sheikh post-Godhra riots cases to buttress his claim for transfer of the case.

“The facts of the case cited by Mr Sharma has no application to the present case,” the bench observed, dismissing his application.

At the last hearing on January 23, the apex court had asked the special fast-track court to examine, if necessary, the claim that Mukesh was being subjected to torture in judicial custody. The apex court had passed the order while referring to the sessions court the claims of two advocates — N. Rajaraman and V.K. Anand — to represent Mukesh in the case. Manohar Lal Sharma is appearing on behalf of Rajaraman.

It had passed the order after Sharma told the court he was unable to meet his client as Tihar jail authorities were not permitting him.

He also alleged that “police and other authorities” were subjecting Mukesh to physical torture.

Following the submission, the apex court said the fast-track court should examine torture allegations if any such complaint was lodged before it.

While Anand claimed he had file a vakalatnama for Mukesh in the fast-track court that would take up framing of charges from Thursday, Rajaraman claimed he had been engaged by the family of the accused to represent him.

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

Sharma, in his earlier petition, had claimed that starting from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the entire country appeared to be prejudiced in the case, so much so that they wanted the accused to be awarded death or exemplary punishment.

“That since 17.12.2012 till date there are regular public agitations conducted in Delhi. Political pressure are mounting upon police to hang the arrested persons, declaring them as real culprits. State chief minister Sheila Dixit and her party leader Sonia Gandhi are taking personal interest to get punishment to the petitioner and his co-accused without any delay,” the petition said.

“Even the judicial officers are under deep sentiments due to all the hue and cry in Delhi and local agitations. Some of them have been part of the agitation too.

“Media has said criminal offence exposed the issue and already decided/held the petitioner and co-accused responsible for the said offence without trial which has created so deep sentiment that each and every person belong to Delhi is clamouring to hang the petitioner and co-accused declaring them as real accused without a judicial a trial,” it said.