The verdict in the gang rape of a Danish tourist in Delhi has been held up by a peculiar request — the court-appointed lawyer of one of the nine accused, now dead, wants him declared impotent and, thereby, innocent.
The state had withdrawn the case against Shyam Lal after his death. But his lawyer, Dinesh Sharma, is insistent that the court recall witnesses to testify on a medical report stating that the 55-year-old was impotent. Additional sessions judge Rakesh Kumar will now hear an application filed by Sharma on March 8.
Lal, with the others, was accused of robbing and raping the lost 54-year-old at knifepoint in Paharganj on January 14, 2014. Five of the accused, including Lal, went on trial. The remaining four were minors and a Juvenile Justice Board inquiry is currently on.
The trial was to end on January 23 when the sessions court had said it would pronounce its verdict. But with days to go, the prosecution brought the medical report to the judge’s notice, who ruled that it was relevant to Lal’s case as his defence from the beginning had been impotent.
And while the judge waited for the documents to be filed, Lal died last week of natural causes.
Public prosecutor Atul Srivastava argued that with the state withdrawing criminal proceedings against Lal, there was no need to recall evidence related to him. The move, he said, would delay a trial that had already gone on for over two years.
But Sharma insisted the doctor who examined Lal and wrote the report be questioned again.
An exoneration seems unlikely, though. As lawyer Shilpi Jain said, “Earlier, in an allegation of gang rape, there had to be participation. But given the new law which has increased the ambit of rape to cover digital, oral or insertion of a foreign object, a defence of impotency holds no validity. Many doctors, in fact, say impotency is a state of mind and can vary with time.”