It seems to be raining lawyers for the Delhi gang-rape accused. Three lawyers have told reporters on Thursday that they will be representing four of the five accused in the case.
ML Sharma, a Supreme Court lawyer, told media persons that he will be representing Mukesh, brother of main accused, Ram Singh.
Explaining how he became involved in the case, he said, "I have been interested in this case from the very first day. About eight days ago, I got a call from an unknown person and he said ‘Baccho ko bachao’ (save the boys). However, I remained undecided. And it was on January 7 (on the day accused where to be produced before the court), I decided to take up their case."
Incidentally, Sharma was at the receiving end of the commotion in the courtroom on Monday (7 January) when lawyers from Saket Court began to shout at him for coming forward to defend the accused. The Saket Bar Association had passed a resolution not defend accused. On the same day, the magistrate passed an order directing all hearings in the case to be held in-camera and ordered that any reporting or publishing of information relating to the legal proceedings in the case without permission of the court would be unlawful.
Asked if he had received any threats since, Sharma said: "You saw what happened on that day in court. I got some threatening calls. But it has stopped. The anger against me is over. Now every advocate wants to appear for the accused."
Sharma, a member of the Maharashtra Bar Council, says he has been practicing in the Supreme Court since 1990. Asked about some of the cases he has fought, Sharma mentions the PIL enquiring into the assets of former Chief Justice of India (CJI) KG Balakrishnan and another PIL in the Vodafone tax case that claimed that the then sitting CJI SH Kapadia had a conflict of interest in the case.
Not only did the apex court dismiss Sharma’s petition in the Vodafone PIL but also fined him Rs 50,000 for it.
Another Supreme Court lawyer, AP Singh told reporters that he was representing two of the accused — Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma. Recounting how he came to be involved in the case, Singh said: "The family members of both the accused — Akshay Kumar and Vinay Sharma - met us. This was on 5-6 January. But at the time of the first meeting, I refused to take their case because it was a highlighted case and a number of public persons were protesting against it. The family member of accused contacted my mother again on 6-7 January. And it is not possible for me refuse the order of my mother."
As per Singh’s visiting card, he is the All India General Secretary of the Bharatiya Sampurn Krantikari Party and has an office in Hong Kong.
The loudest of the three lawyers is VK Anand, who had created a ruckus in the courtroom on Monday after getting into a heated argument with another lawyer. Anand told reporters that he was representing the main accused Ram Singh.
The advocates told reporters that the next hearing in the case will be on 14 January.
The chargesheet in the gangrape case, where 23-year-old student and her friend were brutally assaulted in moving bus on December 16, was filed by the Delhi Police on 4 January. The victim succumbed to injuries on 29 December.
Five of the six accused have been charged with multiple offences including murder, attempt to murder, gang-rape, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, dacoity, dacoity with murder and unnatural sexual offences. The sixth victim was identified by Delhi Police as a minor and will be tried by the juvenile justice board.