Two of the four death-row convicts in the infamous Delhi gangrape case have written to Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur and justice Dipak Misra, stating that they do not approve of the defence counsels appointed by the Supreme Court to argue their case.
Justice Misra heads the top court bench that is hearing the appeals against their punishment.
In an incident that shocked the nation, six people had brutally assaulted and gang-raped a 23-year-old paramedical student before throwing her out of a moving bus in New Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. She died in a Singapore hospital almost two weeks later.
Pavan Gupta (22) and Vinay Sharma (23), lodged in Tihar Jail, sent handwritten letters in Hindi to the two judges on July 2. Their lawyer, AP Singh, said the duo expressed reluctance to take the assistance of senior advocates Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde because both had condemned them at the time of the incident.
The letter states the two senior counsels expressed their views on the matter during television interviews and also put up critical posts against them on Facebook. They have provided copies of articles authored by the advocates to Singh.
Ramachandran denied the claims made by the two convicts. “All that I can say is: To the best of my knowledge and recollection, I have not spoken on this case at all. And if I have, I would like to be told when and where,” he said.
Hegde refused to comment. “Whatever I have to say, I will tell the court,” he said.
Singh told HT that his clients were not opposed to accepting court-appointed lawyers to defend them. “But they should not be biased. The comments and articles clearly show they (Ramachandran and Hegde) are pre-decided on the issue,” he said.
The duo claimed the case against them was false, and all the documents proving their innocence were with Singh — who might file a formal application on July 18. Pavan also opposed Ramachandran’s appointment on the grounds that he had represented two terrorists — Ajmal Kasab and Yakub Memon — in the apex court.
A day ago, the Supreme Court had defended its order directing Ramachandran and Hegde to assist the court as defence counsels. Clarifying that it did not intend to undermine the credentials of the lawyers hired by the convicts, it said: “The appointment came because we also want to learn from their assistance.”
The court is likely to sit beyond its working hours from next week to fast-track the appeals of the four convicts against the death sentence awarded to them.