The special fast-track court conducting the trial in the December 16 gang-rape case on Thursday decided to appoint an amicus curiae in the case after the repeated failure of a counsel for one of the accused to appear for examination of witnesses.

The court said there was a need for appointment of amicus curiae as M. L. Sharma, counsel for Mukesh, was not appearing regularly in the trial which is being conducted on day-to-day basis.

“I had enquired from the accused Mukesh on Wednesday if he intends to have any other lawyer from the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA) and he replied in the negative,” Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna said. “Looking at the fact that the counsel of accused Mukesh, M. L. Sharma, is not appearing regularly and that since the trial is being conducted on a day-to-day basis, I feel it appropriate to appoint amicus curiae to assist the court in future in case such situation arises.”

The Judge has appointed advocate Rajeev Jain as an amicus curiae to assist the court in future. Advocate Sharma, who is defending accused Mukesh, was for the past three days reportedly arguing applications relating to the gang-rape case in the Supreme Court or at the Delhi High Court.

Though Mr. Sharma on Thursday informed the court that he could not be present on account of another hearing in the Delhi High Court, the judge disallowed his plea for adjournment. The court cited Section 309(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code which stipulates that the engagement of the pleader of a party in another court shall not be a ground for adjournment.

Referring to Section 309 Cr. PC which empowers the court to dispense with the cross-examination of the witnesses in the absence of the counsel, Mr. Khanna pointed out that on April 16 and 17 also Mr. Sharma did not appear nor did he send any of his associates to inform about his absence.

“Today also, instead of cross-examining the witnesses, he had appeared at 12-45 p.m. and filed an application for adjournment and thereafter left the court, despite being asked to appear at 2 p.m.,” the judge said in his order.

Mr. Khanna also ordered that the cross-examination of the two witnesses present in the court were closed on behalf of accused Mukesh as their evidence was general and they were extensively cross-examined by the counsel for the other accused.

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