In a fresh twist in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, Advocate AP Singh, who was up till now representing three of the four convicts, informed the Patiala House Court that he has been disengaged as the counsel for one of three convicts, Pawan Gupta, and will not be representing him henceforth.
This was told to Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana just as he sat to hear the application filed by Nirbhaya’s parents seeking issuance of a fresh death warrant against the four accused. In light of this new development, Pawan Gupta, who is yet to approach the Supreme Court in a curative petition, was left unrepresented before the Court and the hearing could not progress.
ASJ Rana offered Pawan’s father legal aid in form of a lawyer from the Delhi Legal Services Cell who would appear for him, but Pawan’s father turned down the offer saying he would like to engage a private lawyer instead. At this point is when Nirbhaya’s mother stood before the judge with folded hands and tears running down her face, pleading him to issue a death warrant.
“I have been coming to this Court daily for the past 7 years. I’m also human. I also have rights. My daughter also had rights. Please respect them and issue a fresh death warrant,” she said.
The judge, however, calmly explained to Nirbhaya’s mother that a death warrant could not be issued without hearing the other side and the other side could not be heard in absence of a counsel.
Nirbhaya’s father also made an emotional appeal to the Court asking them to not allow tactics like these to continue any further. The judge told him that despite these being “tactics”, the convicts were exercising their legal rights and that the Court was obligated to follow the law and give them a chance to be heard.
Nirbhaya’s parents, disheartened, disappointed and distraught, walked out of Court in between the hearing. They later told the press that they’d lost faith in the Court.
The hearing has now been adjourned till 3:00 pm tomorrow. Time has been given to Pawan’s father to engage a new lawyer to represent him and arguments on whether or not a fresh death warrant should be issued at this stage will be taken up by the Court.