The fast track court hearing the Delhi gangrape, appointed an amicus curiae to assist the court in the trial on Thursday, after defence counsel ML Sharma was not present to cross-examine the witnesses for a third consecutive day.
The court on Wednesday had given defence counsel Sharma a "last opportunity" to a cross examine a Delhi police inspector.
Sharma had arrived prior to the scheduled time of hearing today to inform the court that he could not be present on account of another hearing at the High Court and was told by the judge to be present when the hearing began.
When Sharma failed to be present, the judge passed an order appointing Rajeev Jain as amicus curiae.
In his order the judge said, "Looking at the fact that advocate ML Sharma is not appearing regularly and that since the trial is being conducted on day to day basis, I feel it appropriate to appoint an amicus curiae to assist the court in future, in case such situation arises."
The court in an earlier order (28 March) had referred to Section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code which empowers the court to dispense with the cross examination of the witnesses in the absence of the counsel. Referring to the order of 28 March, the judge said, "But on that day, despite the absence of advocate ML Sharma one more opportunity, in the interest of justice, was granted to him to cross examine the witness."
Today, however, the court disallowed Sharma's application informing the court that he had to be present in another court. Quoting Section 309 of the CrPC again, the judge said, "seeking adjournment on the plea that he is busy in another court cannot be allowed."
The judge also ordered that the cross-examination of the two witnesses who were present took place behind close doors. "Considering the nature of the evidence given by these two witness, being general and also considering that these witnesses have been extensively cross examined by the counsels of the other accused and also taking in view the fact that advocate ML Sharma is not present to cross examine these witnesses on behalf of accused Mukesh, the witnesses cannot be asked to come again."
The court will hear the case next on Saturday.