A day before their court appearance, two of the six accused in the Delhi gangrape and murder case offered to turn approvers, a move legal experts dismissed as a desperate bid to escape punishment.
Metropolitan magistrate Jyoti Kler told Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, who were presented before her with two other accused on Sunday at the end of their 14-day judicial custody, to move an application in the court that would hear the case, which has triggered nation-wide outrage and demand for death to rapists.
"Accused Pawan and Vinay have been directed to move an appropriate application to become witnesses…," Kler said.
A fast-track is expected to hold a day-to-day hearing in the case.
"This is a desperate bid to escape punishment," former Delhi high court judge justice RS Sodhi told HT.
"An accused cannot volunteer to become a witness. It is the prerogative of the prosecution to consider it and make a request to the court," he said.
The two men along with Ram Singh, Mukesh, and Akshay Thakur were chargesheeted Thursday. They face charges of murder, gang rape, unnatural sex, kidnapping and destruction of evidence.
The sixth accused, who is a juvenile, will be tried by a juvenile justice court.
The six had on December 16 raped a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus and had savagely assaulted her before throwing her off the bus with her male friend.
The young woman died of her injuries on December 29.
Both the accused had admitted to their crime on December 19 when they were produced before the court.
"Mujhe phasi de do, maine bahut bura kaam kiya hain (Hang me, I have committed a heinous crime), Vinay Sharma told the court.
Gupta had refused test-identification parade, saying he had committed a terrible crime.
The judge had asked the police to move an application for recording their confessional statements but that has not been done so far.
"Accused cannot themselves decide to become approver or witness. The prosecuting agency -- that is the state -- needs to accept their request," said senior criminal lawyer Ramesh Gupta.
The magistrate extended the judicial remand of the four accused to January 19, asking them appear before the court concerned on January 7.
She also ordered that Singh and Mukesh be provided legal aid counsel.