The Delhi gang rape case being heard by a fast track court in the national capital on Wednesday witnessed two of the accused opting to change their counsel.
Mukesh and Akshay Sharma, two of the five adult accused who had allegedly gang raped a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus on December 16 last year, have replaced V K Anand with another advocate M L Sharma to represent them in the case.
Sharma was confirmed as their counsel by Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna who is conducting the proceedings behind closed doors.
Sharma told media persons outside the courtroom that he was appointed as their counsel by the judge after consulting with the two accused and Mukesh's parents.
The advocate said he had met Mukesh on Tuesday in Tihar Jail in connection with defending him in the case after his parents approached him.
Mukesh's parents came to him saying they had lost hope that their son would be released and had requested him to defend their son, Sharma said.
Sharma said that when he was in Tihar to meet Mukesh, Akshay had also asked him to represent him in the case.
Akshay was being represented by advocate A P Singh, who will now be appearing for Vinay Sharma only, while the remaining accused Pawan Gupta will continue to be represented by advocate Vivek Sharma.
M L Sharma was initially appointed by Ram Singh, who died in Tihar Jail on March 11, as his defence counsel. He was later replaced by V K Anand.
Anand, who has been removed as Mukesh' counsel, said a client if he so wishes can change his lawyer and alleged that "police officials pressurised Mukesh to change his lawyer".
The court, which has till date recorded statements of 53 witnesses in the case, did not examine any witness on Wednesday.
With the proceedings against the main accused Ram Singh having abated after his death on March 11, the remaining four adult accused Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan are facing trial in the case for rape and murder of the girl. The sixth accused in the case is a juvenile and therefore is facing proceedings before the Juvenile Justice Board.
The girl had died on December 29, 2012 in a Singapore hospital due to the grievous injuries she suffered when she was brutally assaulted by the six accused.