Gangrape case: Supreme Court defers hearing over counsel row

A day after two lawyers appeared before the Supreme Court claiming to represent one of the six accused in the December 16 gangrape case, the sessions Judge has been asked by the court conducting the trial to find out who the actual counsel was and if he wanted to pursue the case for transferring the trial to a court outside Delhi.

A bench headed by chief justice Altamas Kabir adjourned the hearing after the advocates indulged in verbal dual and began making claims and counterclaims for representing accused Mukesh. Refusing to hear the case, the sessions judge has been asked by the Supreme Court bench to find out who the accused’s actual counsel was.

As soon as advocate ML Sharma, who claimed to have filed the plea on behalf of accused Mukesh to seek transfer of trial to Mathura in UP on the ground of prejudice and charged atmosphere, started arguments, another lawyer VK Anand objected saying Sharma was no more associated with the case.

It was then that the Supreme Court bench asked the advocate-on-record to appear before it at noon to find out the truth. When the matter was again taken up after lunch, Anand did a U-turn, saying he has been authorised by the accused to represent him only in the trial court.

Sharma then alleged that Mukesh is being tortured by the police and Anand was trying to create hindrance in hearing of the transfer plea in the gangrape case in which arguments on charges will commence from Thursday.

The court then directed the sessions judge to talk to Mukesh and find out the truth behind these allegations and posted the matter for hearing on January 30.

Mukesh, who along with four others, has been charged with murder, gangrape and unnatural offences, has alleged that in view of regular agitations, police and judicial officials are under pressure to pass orders according to the demands of the agitators and hence, a fair hearing is not possible. “The sentiment has gone into the root of each home in Delhi by which even the judicial officers and the state are not spared and in these circumstances, he cannot get justice in Delhi at all,” Mukesh’s plea said.

Besides Mukesh, bus driver Ram Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur, have been charged with offences of murder, gangrape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, dacoity, hurting in committing robbery, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and common intention under IPC. Their sixth accomplice is a juvenile and is being tried separately before the Juvenile Justice Board.

Judicial custody of Namdhari, others extended

The judicial custody of sacked Uttarakhand minority panel chief S S Namdhari and nine others, arrested for their alleged roles in the murder of liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother in a shootout, was extended till Friday by a Delhi court.

By a day the judicial custody of Namdhari has been extended by the Metropolitan Magistrate Anu Aggarwal, his PSO Sachin Tyagi and eight others after they appeared in the court through video conference.

Their judicial custody was extended for a day only as the investigating officer (IO) could not reach the concerned court in time and reached it only after it had risen for the day.

The IO accordingly had to appear before the court of Duty Magistrate Aggarwal before which the accused were produced through video conferencing.

The court extended the judicial custody of accused Bhupender Singh, Uday Raj Singh, Rajpal Singh, Anand Singh Bisht, Mathura Singh Mehra and Satnam Singh, who are Ponty’s aides.

It has also extended the judicial custody for Namdhari’s men Simranjeet Singh and Jagbir Singh custody till Friday.

The Crime Branch of Delhi Police had booked Namdhari for allegedly killing Ponty Chadha’s younger brother Hardeep.

Tyagi, a constable with Uttarakhand Police since 2005 and deployed as Namdhari’s PSO since January 2012, was also arrested for his alleged role in the crime.

Ponty and Hardeep, who had an ongoing property dispute, were killed in a shootout at their Chattarpur farmhouse in New Delhi on November 17 afternoon, after which the police has arrested altogether ten persons including Tyagi and Namdhari in various criminal cases linked to the incident.

All the ten accused have been booked for allegedly committing offences of hatching criminal conspiracy, attempt to murder, dacoity, assault, Arms Act, destruction of evidence, trespass, illegal confinement and kidnapping.

The police, however, has booked Namdhari on charges of murder. The police had told the court that from the probe, it has been established that Namdhari has played a vital role in the conspiracy with other co-accused, who acted on his orders.

The police had also told the court that during the probe, Tyagi had disclosed about his involvement in the conspiracy of trespass and that he along with Namdhari, had shot at Hardeep as per a plan hatched earlier among him, Namdhari and Ponty.

It had said Namdhari had brought with him a number of associates armed with weapons, hockey sticks and baseball bats to facilitate forcible possession of the Chattarpur farmhouse.

Namdhari’s associates help him run his various businesses in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab.

In this regard two criminal cases, one of forcible dispossession of the farm house in which Hardeep was murdered and the other of murder of Ponty, were registered by the police.

Earlier, the court had also issued non bailable warrants against eight men, all belonging to Bareilly, for January 28 after the Crime Branch had submitted to it that they were still on run and were wanted for their alleged roles in killings of Ponty and Hardeep.

The eight against whom the NBWs were issued are Hardayal Singh, Satnam Singh, Baj Singh, Balkar Singh, Pargat Singh, Kulbir Singh, Bakshish Singh and Dharmender.

FSL pulled up for having non-competent officers

Irked over non-availability of competent forensic experts for conducting DNA examination, a Delhi court has directed a forensic science laboratory (FSL) here to hold the test again on an accused in a gangrape case of a minor girl in a moving car in 2010.

The court’s order came after the prosecutor submitted to it that the expert who had conducted the DNA / finger printing examination in the case was “not a competent officer” as per the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) norms.

Additional sessions judge Kamini Lau noted that in the DNA report of the experts of Rohini-based FSL, it was stated that DNA could not be “isolated” from the forensic sample.

The court was dealing with a case in which Delhi resident Hitesh was accused of gang raping a 15-year-old girl with his associate Sunil’s help in a moving car on March 19, 2010 morning at Bawana in North West Delhi after kidnapping her.

The police had said as the girl resisted the rape attempt in the car, the accused had hit her hard on her backbone, leading her to suffer immediate paralysis waist downward. The girl had died last year after a long medical treatment.

Sunil was absconding since then and was arrested in the case in September this year. He was caught by police in another gang rape case this year in which he had allegedly adopted a similar modus operandi of kidnapping and then raping the victim in a moving car in North West Delhi.

The court said as Sunil has been arrested now, his samples would also be required to be sent for DNA examination.

The judge said, “Keeping in view the fact that proclaimed offender Sunil has been apprehended, the source material is again required to be sent to the FSL, Rohini for fresh DNA /finger printing examination to which defence counsel has no objection.

“This being the background, I hereby direct that the source material in respect of both the accused Hitesh and Sunil Sehrawat, be subjected to fresh DNA / finger printing examination, report of which is directed to be placed before this court directly on next date.”

The court also directed for placing the copy of its order before Delhi Government’s Additional Secretary (Home) G P Singh, who is also the officiating director of the FSL at Rohini and also the head of department (DNA /finger printing Unit) there.

The ASJ’s observations assume importance as the Delhi High Court recently, in the gang rape case of a 23-year-old paramedic, had directed the city government to look into the issue of lack of infrastructure and other facility at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL).

The high court had also said it was informed there is no director at the CFSL and there are two deputy directors in the CFSL who are not competent and leads to delay of one to two years in the investigation.

The ASJ was earlier upset that despite medical records suggesting that the minor girl was raped, the police had chargesheeted the accused only for the offence of attempt to rape and causing grievous hurt to her.

It had noted that after raping the girl, the accused “deliberately” caused the accident of their car by driving it into a ditch to destroy the evidence, while themselves jumping out of the vehicle.

Due to the accident, the victim received further injuries and eventually died last year after a long treatment. The court has put Hitesh on trial for offences of murder, kidnapping, gang rape, destruction of evidence and various other penal offences.



Tulsi Prajapati case: HC to hear pleas on Tuesday

The Gujarat High Court will on Tuesday hear the pleas of five accused, including two serving police officers, challenging the jurisdiction of a local court in Banaskantha district accepting the chargesheet filed by the CBI in the 2006 Tulsi Prajapati fake encounter case.

Justice RH Shukla today adjourned the hearing on the request of CBI seeking time to file its reply.

The Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Geeta Ahir of Danta court on September 18 had held that her court has the competence to take cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the investigating agency on September 4.

CBI has named 20 people, including former minister of state for Home and Modi’s aide Amit Shah, in its chargesheet.

The accused police officials had objected to the filing of the chargesheet in the Danta court instead of the special CBI court in Ahmedabad where the agency had filed the FIR in this case on April 29, 2011.

On September 21, Geetha Johri (Additional DGP), Rajkumara Pandian (suspended IPS officer), PC Pande (ex-DGP) and RK Patel (Dy SP and former Investigating Officer of Prajapati case) had filed separate petitions challenging Danta court’s decision saying the chargesheet can only be filed in the CBI court in Ahmedabad.

Today another accused and former police officer O P Mathur, then ADGP of CID (Crime) also filed the similar petition against the lower court’s order.

All the five accused have sought directions from the high court for restricting the local court from taking cognisance of the chargesheet until their their pleas are decided.

CBI counsel Yogesh Rawani today requested the HC to grant time to get instructions from the concerned officer of the Agency in this regard.

Meanwhile, Prajapati’s mother Narmada Bai today requested the court to allow her to intervene in the case as she is the principal complainant on whose complaint the Supreme Court directed the CBI to probe the death of her son.

“We are opposing the demands of the accused on the grounds that unless and until a court takes cognisance and issues process of further proceedings on the chargesheet the accused have no role and they don’t even come into the picture. So they have no locus standi at this stage,” advocate Mukul Sinha representing Narmada Bai said.

Prajapati, a witness to the abduction and subsequent killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh and his wife Kauser bi, was killed in a staged encounter allegedly by Gujarat Police at Chhapri near the temple town of Ambaji in Banaskantha on December 28, 2006.

CBI in its chargesheet has shown Shah as the “kingpin” in the murder of Prajapti, besides charging 17 others, including Johri, Pandian, Vanzara for murder, conspiracy, destruction of the evidence among other sections of Indian Penal Code.

OP Mathur and RK Patel have been charged for the criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and dereliction of duty.