rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » Delhi rape: Defence lawyers blame Braveheart, her friend, and government

Delhi rape: Defence lawyers blame Braveheart, her friend, and government

Last updated on: September 05, 2013 16:45 IST

Delhi rape: Defence lawyers blame Braveheart, her friend, and government

     Next

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

As the country awaits justice for the horrific gang rape and murder of the Delhi Braveheart, Swarupa Dutt meets the lawyers of the accused. They either blame the girl, or her friend, or both. One of the lawyers who was associated with the case even claims there was no rape, and that the girl is alive.

The Saket fast-track court in south Delhi is likely to deliver its verdict on September 10 on the four adults accused in the gang rape and murder of the Delhi Braveheart.

The other charges against them include kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, robbery, and unnatural sexual offences. 

Six people were arrested in the case that shook the country and the world. Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur faced trial in the Saket court, one of the five fast-track courts set up in the wake of the gang rape.

The juvenile’s case was heard by the Juvenile Justice Board. On August 31, he was sentenced to three years in a remand home. The case against Ram Singh was dropped after he was found dead, hanging in his Tihar Jail cell, on March 11.

Of the four remaining adult accused, Mukesh Singh is being represented by V K Anand, Pawan Gupta by Vivek Sharma, and Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur are being represented by A P Singh. Till April, M L Sharma represented Mukesh Singh. Sharma says his client was tortured to ensure the case was transferred to Anand, who he accuses of being a police stooge.

If found guilty, Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay and Akshay are likely to face the death sentence.

So far, the three defence lawyers spent much of their time in court, and out of it, sniping at each other. 

Additional sessions judge Yogesh Khanna, who has presided over the trial since it began in February, heard 100 witnesses -- 85 by the prosecution and 17 by the defence. 

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Policemen in plainclothes escort the juvenile rapist in the Delhi gang-rape case
Photographs: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

     Next

Lawyer 1: 'There was no iron rod in the bus'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

Advocate Ajay Prakash Singh, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar’s lawyer, sweeps into his office-cum-residence at Pitampura in north-west Delhi, where a small durbar of hangers-on awaits him.

“This trial cannot run without me,” he announces, slamming his files on the table.

Why did he take up the case? “My clients believe I am God; I cannot let them lose faith in their God,” he says. “But I took up the case because Akshay’s wife begged my mother to intervene and help her son.”

Public sentiment against the accused was very strong so he did not want to represent them, but his mother believed Akshay was implicated by the police.

“A mother’s decree is bigger than a decree by God,” says the advocate. 

He is not representing the men for publicity in the high-profile case, he says, since he’s “among Delhi’s top 10 lawyers”. His assistant opens a file with newspaper clippings of him, as proof.

The lawyer says the girl was raped by Ram Singh, the juvenile, and a missing accused.

Vinay Sharma in his statements to the court had claimed that December 16, the night of the rape and murder, he and co-accused Pawan Gupta had gone to a music event organised by a church at a Delhi Development Association district park at Hauz Khas, south Delhi,.

Both the men’s claims have since been rejected by prosecution witnesses and the police.

Advocate Singh claims there is a video clip of the event the boys went to with their families.

“Vinay had a bought a new phone. Bacchhe hain, photo khichwa liya (they are kids, they took photographs). Pawan is also there in the clip,” says Advocate Singh.

Akshay’s statement to the court says he was not in the bus and had left for his village in Bihar on December 15 by the Mahabodhi Express. Advocate Singh says there are CCTV images to prove the claim.

Evidence was planted in the bus, claims the lawyer.

“There was no iron rod in the bus,” he declares, also claiming, “The girl told the doctors she was slapped, but did not mention an iron rod.”

Advocate Ajay Prakash Singh says the police and prosecution are trying to get the death sentence for the accused by making it out to be a ‘rarest of rare’ case.

The girl’s dying declaration says: “They tore my clothes and raped me in turns. They hit me with an iron rod and bit me on my entire body.”

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Advocate Ajay Prakash Singh in his office in New Delhi
Photographs: Swarupa Dutt

Prev     Next

'The girl was attacked and raped because Awnindra did not protect her'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

Advocate Ajay Prakash Singh points a finger at the Delhi Braveheart’s friend, Awnindra Pandey, who was with her that fateful evening.

“He (Awnindra) weighs over 100 kg; are you telling me he couldn’t protect his girlfriend?” the lawyer thunders. 

Advocate Singh alleges Awnindra, the eyewitness to the incident, had four other girlfriends. He says Awnindra got away with a simple injury because he hid under the bus seats when she was being attacked.

Had Awnindra fought to save her, advocate Singh says, he could have died as a result of his injuries.  

The lawyer had pushed for Awnindra to be made an accused in the case; the court threw it out.

“There were four men,” Advocate Singh claims, rattling off his math. “They (the girl and Awnindra) were two. Four versus two, but one was driving, so there were three men. They were two. Three versus two. Nowadays, women are in the army, air force… she could have fought like two men.”

The advocate, who has pictures of Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi and Subhas Chandra Bose in his office, draws upon Indian culture and patriarchy.

“A husband, a lover, a father, a brother or uncle will sacrifice his life to protect a woman,” he declares. “But the girl was attacked and raped because Awnindra did not protect her. Because he did not respect her.”

Awnindra, the main prosecution witness, in his deposition to the Saket court said he was hit several times with two iron bars, slapped, kicked and punched.

When he fell on the floor of the bus, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta pinned him down, even as the others took turns to rape the girl at the back of the bus.

Awnindra suffered injuries to his head, both his legs and several places on his body. Doctors at Safdarjung Hospital had upheld his statement.

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Thousands of protestors took to the streets to demand urgent action against the rapists
Photographs: REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal

Prev     Next

Lawyer calls Braveheart a 'loose' woman, accused a 'patriot'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

In rape cases, defence lawyers often point fingers at the victim’s character. Advocate Singh is no exception.

“Why didn’t the family call the police or begin searching for their daughter when she wasn’t home by 11 pm,” he asks. “They waited for the police to call them. Why wasn’t the mother worried when her daughter and the lover’s phones were switched off? She is after all the mother of a girl! This means the girl came home whenever she chose to, late at night, or may be the next morning.”

He points out that it was a cold winter night in Delhi, and asks why she was out so late when the streets were empty.

He goes on to explain exactly why the Braveheart had a “loose” character, an adjective that seems to be a personal favourite.

He looks incredulous when he is told that the doctors, the prosecution and the police maintain the girl died of her injuries as a consequence of the brutal rape.

“It was a political death,” Advocate Singh shrieks. “She did not die because of her injuries or the rape.  She was killed in the hospital (Safdurjung Hospital, Delhi). The state (Uttar Pradesh, where the Braveheart’s family is from) and the Centre colluded to kill her.”

The government, advocate Singh declares, panicked at the unprecedented protests and public outrage after the incident. People were baying for blood, they wanted death for all the accused.

“So, the government decided to give in to public sentiment,” he says. “Since rape and molestation do not carry the death penalty, the government sacrificed her so that the accused could be hanged for her murder.”

Both Vinay Sharma, 20, a gym assistant, and Akshay Kumar, 28, a bus cleaner, have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Vinay, advocate Singh says, wants to join the Indian Air Force and become a fighter pilot. 

Bechara ladka, desh ki seva karna chahata hai (The poor boy wants to serve his country). He is very patriotic,” says the lawyer.

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: A hospital ambulance transports the body of a rape victim for cremation after it arrived from Singapore, in New Delhi December 30, 2012
Photographs: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Prev     Next

Lawyer 2: 'Cannot buy the theory that a woman is responsible for rape'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

Vinod Kumar Anand, a Supreme Court advocate, made headlines for representing Ram Singh -- the main accused in the case.

In fact, the case in the Saket Court is called ‘State Vs Ram Singh and another’. The ‘another’ is the juvenile. After Ram Singh’s death, Anand is representing Ram Singh’s brother, Mukesh Singh, 22, another accused. 

Advocate Anand took up the case at the suggestion of his son Vibhor. Vibhor, a law student assisting his father in the case, says the accused had to be defended and no matter what the crime they were entitled to a fair trial.

Both the accused and the victim must get justice, Vibhor stresses: “You cannot be swayed by public outrage or the sentiments of the victim’s family.” 

Vibhor admits neither the Braveheart nor her friend was responsible for what happened.

“I cannot buy the theory that a woman is responsible for rape,” says Vibhor.

Advocate Anand has, however, been reprimanded by the court for saying that Awnindra was a ‘womaniser’.

The court also disallowed the lawyer from raising questions about the nature of the relationship between the Braveheart and Awnindra.

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Advocate VK Anand
Photographs: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Prev     Next

The bus driver, the conspiracy theories, and stooge allegations

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

Mukesh Singh pleaded not guilty in the case and like the other accused claimed he was not present in the bus. He changed his statement in July to say he was driving the bus. He also identified his co-accused, as well as the Braveheart and Awnindra as his passengers that night.

Mukesh's testimony matched most of the statements of the prosecution's case.

But he denied hearing cries for help from the woman or other noises from passengers since, he claimed, the driver's cabin was closed and he did not see what happened. He also said the lights had been switched off inside the bus.

Vibhor snorts at the conspiracy theories floated by lawyers of the other accused.

“I am only concerned about my client and his statement to the court,” he says. “He said he was in the bus, driving the bus, but does not know anything of what took place. The prosecution has not said my client was part of the murder and rape or that he conspired with the other accused. So why should I look at conspiracy theories when the prosecution has accepted our claim?”

On another defence lawyer’s allegations of Advocate Anand being a police stooge, Vibhor says, “These allegations have been made ever since we began defending Mukesh Singh and I know who has been floating these theories. If we have indeed been planted by the police, show us the proof… The other defence lawyers, who have been saying (alleging) this, have adopted my father’s statements of the cross examinations of the witnesses. So, if he was indeed a police plant, why did they do so?”

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Accused Mukesh Singh's brother with parents
Photographs: REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal

Prev     Next

Supreme Court advocate: 'No respectable woman is raped'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

Supreme Court advocate Manohar Lal Sharma was representing Mukesh Singh till April. He was the first defence lawyer in the case and had offered his services pro bono. Sharma claims that he was forced out of the case by Anand

Mukesh Singh is now represented by V K Anand, who Sharma alleges to be a police stooge.

Outside court, advocate Sharma caused a furore with his comment to the media that no respectable woman is raped.

“The girl is partly responsible for the rape because she chose to be out with a man, who was her boyfriend, not her husband,” advocate Sharma declares.

The definition of Indian culture, advocate Sharma continues, says that no right-thinking woman should go out with her boyfriend in the night.

“No, it doesn’t happen even in Mumbai,” he says. “Had she stayed home, this would never have happened and therefore she is responsible for what happened. Why should you put yourself in a situation where you can’t protect yourself? She gave the men an opportunity to misbehave with her.”

He says he stands by his statement that “no respectable woman is raped”, and explains the “inner meaning”.

What he meant, but “nobody understood,” he says, was that it’s only when a woman loses respect in the eyes of a man -- by the way she is dressed, speaks, behaves or acts -- does she invite rape.

In this case, he continues, Awnindra did not respect the girl and created a situation where there was a fight.

The girl was to blame too, advocate Sharma declares.

“If you are fully covered, nobody will disrespect you or hurt you,” he says. “Where is the question of rape?”

According to Awnindra’s deposition, the Delhi Braveheart was dressed for a Delhi winter -- in a thick pullover and slacks.

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: Advocate M L Sharma
Photographs: Swarupa Dutt

Prev     Next

Supreme Court advocate: 'There was no rape'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

If the young woman was partly to blame in advocate M L Sharma’s opinion, her friend gets the lion’s share.

Awnindra chose the film Life Of Pi, the lawyer claims, because most of the seats would be unoccupied. He says the two could have gone for an earlier show, but chose the 6 pm show, which compromised her safety since it ended at 9 pm.

Advocate Sharma is no longer associated with the case, but he says. “I used to be his (Mukesh Singh’s) lawyer, but I am still part of the case because the court hasn’t discharged me.”

Advocate Sharma questions why Awnindra did not take a taxi to Dwarka, where the Braveheart lived.

“If you can spend Rs 500 on a film, why can’t you spend Rs 200 on a cab? He could have also taken an auto to the metro station, which is the safest. They could have boarded a DTC bus, they did not,” he says, thumping the table, “because he chose to take an empty bus.”

Awnindra’s deposition to the court states the film ended at around 8.30 pm and they headed home from Saket City Mall. They asked 4-5 autos to take them to Dwarka, but were refused. So they hired an auto for the Munirka bus stand from where they could take bus no. 764 to Dwarka.

They reached Munirka bus stand at 9 pm. There was a white bus on which ‘Yadav’ was written and a boy on the bus was calling commuters for Dwarka/Palam junction.

Awnindra later identified the boy he thought was the conductor, as the juvenile.

In the bus, alleges advocate M L Sharma, the couple stripped “for enjoyment”, which is when the accused got angry and told them to behave themselves.

“That is why there was a fight and the couple were injured and were finally thrown out of the bus,” the lawyer says.

“Nobody can tolerate indecency. When you see gandhagi (smut), you will object. When I see couples behaving indecently in the metro, I go up to them and tell them to stop. India thankfully hasn’t imbibed the American way of life as yet.”

He adds: “I can tell you 100 per cent from all the evidence that the girl was not raped. She was injured in the fight, but not raped. Doctors said she died as a result of injuries from the rod, which damaged her intestines. That again is false, but I cannot say why because I don’t want to help the defence.”

Please click on NEXT to read further...

 


Image: A paper marking the number of days of protest is pinned to the trunk of the tree, by a small band of protestors who have been at it since December last year
Photographs: Swarupa Dutt

Prev     Next

'I am saying that the girl is still alive'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next
Swarupa Dutt in New Delhi

The girl and her friend’s statements are entirely fabricated, declares advocate M L Sharma.

The even more bizarre conspiracy theory he floats is this: The young woman is missing, not dead. He says he had raised the question in court because nobody has seen whether there was a body inside the coffin from Singapore.

“The girl has gone missing so that her family can harvest the compensation money,” the lawyer declares. “She will never come back, that is why she was taken to Singapore. I am saying that the girl is still alive, but the government and the police have planted false evidence so that these men can hang to appease public sentiment,” he says.

According to media reports, the Delhi Braveheart was cremated at 7.30 am on December 30. Her father lit the funeral pyre in the presence of her brothers, relatives and others. The body, which was brought to Delhi from Singapore in a special Air India aircraft, was first taken to her residence at Dwarka, at around 3.30 am that day.

The other lawyer for the accused, advocate Vivek Sharma, was not available for comment.


Image: The Delhi braveheart's parents
Photographs: Swarupa Dutt

Prev     Next

TOP photo features you missed last week

Prev     More
Swarupa Dutt

Click on MORE to see another PHOTO features...



Tags: 1

Prev     More