The Delhi high court on Wednesday fumed about the repeated absence of ML Sharma — lawyer for Mukesh Singh, an accused in the December 16 Delhi gang rape case — in both the HC as well as the fast-track court conducting the trial.
Sharma’s absence has been slowing down the trial at a time when 65 out of the 81 witnesses have already been examined.
Sharma had filed a petition in the HC, urging it to quash the first information report in the case and to stop the day-to-day hearings at the fast-track court in Saket. But he failed to turn up despite the two chances the court gave him on Wednesday.
Taking serious note of his lax attitude, justice Pratibha Rani barred Sharma from arguing the case in the HC and only allowed him time until Thursday noon to give a written submission. She will pronounce judgment on his petition on April 22.
The judge’s tough stand came after public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan told her that Sharma has been just as slack in the fast-track court too. “The trial is slowing down. Eleven witnesses are yet to be cross-examined by this lawyer. He is virtually holding the prosecution and the court to ransom. Every day, he keeps the judge, the other defence counsels and the prosecution waiting,” Krishnan told the court.
On Tuesday, the fast-track court had also rebuked the lawyer, saying, “It cannot go on like this.”