A Delhi court hearing the December 16 gang-rape-cum-murder case on Monday witnessed heated arguments between a lawyer, who sought to defend the accused, and other advocates, who vehemently objected to it even as the accused could not be produced in the overcrowded courtroom.
It is for the first time that a lawyer came forward to defend the five accused amid resolutions of various advocate bodies in the city not to represent them.
Advocate Mohan Lal Sharma appeared in the court and told Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal that he had received calls from relatives of some of the accused to defend them.
He told the court that he was unable to take signatures of the accused in 'vakalatnama' (a person's authority letter to an advocate to represent him in court) as he could not go to
Tihar Jail and sought the magistrate's permission to take the same in the court itself.
The metropolitan magistrate, however, refused him the permission and asked him to go to Tihar Jail for the purpose.
Even as the court rejected Sharma's plea, two more lawyers offered their services as amicus curiae to the court.
Later the five accused -- Ram Singh, Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur -- could not be produced in the overcrowded courtroom, jam-packed with media persons, lawyers and police personnel, due to paucity of space.
The magistrate thereafter asked the people present in the court to make space for the accused to enter it, but despite some space having been made for them, the police refused to bring in the five saying they would bring them only after the court is completely cleared.
The accused are likely to be produced in-chamber now.
The accused were to be produced in court in response to the production warrants issued against them for on Monday.
The court had issued the production warrants after taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed against them by the police.
The lawyers representing the media, meanwhile, told the court that the Delhi Police has issued an advisory asking the media not to report the proceedings.
The court, however, said it has not received any application from the police for it.
"Let the prosecutor file the application, if I receive the application, then only I will decide it," the magistrate said.
On Sunday, Vinay and Pawan had told the court that they wanted to become witnesses in the case, while Ram Singh and Mukesh had sought legal aid for their defence.
The court on January 5 had taken cognisance of the charge sheet against five adult accused under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (2)(g) (gangrape), 377 (unnatural offences), 395 (dacoity), 396 (murder in dacoity), 394 (hurting in dacoity), 201 (destruction of evidence), 120-B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention) and 412 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of the IPC.
The case of the sixth accused -- a minor -- is to be heard by a Juvenile Justice Board.
The victim, a paramedical student, was brutally raped and assaulted in a moving bus in New Delhi on the night of December 16 and succumbed to injuries on December 29 in the multi-speciality Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.