New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday declined the request by two amicus curiae — senior counsel Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay R Hegde — to withdraw from assisting the court in the hearing of the appeals by the convicts in the 16 December Delhi gangrape case.
Asking both to continue assisting the court in the hearing of the appeals by the four accused convicted and sentenced to death, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan said: "We can appreciate the anguish expressed by the learned amici curiae.
"We repeat at the cost of repetition that this court has complete faith in the intellectual integrity in the objective assistance of the learned amici curiae who have been appointed by this court and, therefore, they should not feel any agony on any score."
Reminding two senior counsel of their duty to assist the court, the bench said: "Their duty is to assist the Court and we are sure they will do the same."
"We may hasten to clarify, the learned friends of the court shall assist the court with regard to the case and not with regard to any particular petitioner."
Ramachandran and Hegde, in their communication to the court, sought to withdraw as amicus curiae following a letter by two accused objecting to their being nominated to assist the court in respect of their appeals.
The bench had asked Ramachandran to assist it in the hearing of the appeals by Mukesh and Pawan, and Hegde asked to assist the court in the hearing of appeals by Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.
The court on Monday commenced hearing on the appeals by the four whose conviction and death sentence in 16 December Delhi gangrape case was upheld by the Delhi High Court on 13 March, 2014.
Appearing for one of the accused, counsel ML Sharma took the court through the evidence that was tendered at the stage of trial. Since his submission was inconclusive, the next hearing will take place on 22 July.
Mukesh, Pawan, Sharma, Thakur and Ram Singh along with a juvenile were accused of gangraping and assaulting a 23-year-old paramedical student inside a private bus. The victim and her friend were thrown out of the bus after the crime.
Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide while in incarceration.
The victim died of grave intestinal injuries on 29 December, 2012, at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.