The Bombay High Court on Friday refused to stay the ongoing Shakti Mills gang-rape cases on the plea of three accused, who alleged that the trial was not being carried out properly and sought a transfer of the cases from the present court to another.
Justice Gautam Patel allowed the advocates appearing for accused Vijay Jadhav, Ashfaque Shaikh and Salim Ansari to move a proper application before the court raising their pleadings but refused to stay the trial progressing on a daily basis. The court said: “In our view, the only purpose of applications moved by the accused is to derail the trial which is specifically fast tracked so that it is decided at the earliest.”
The accused, who are represented by advocates Salsingkar Prakash and Keshav Chavan in the two trials being heard at the sessions court, had written letters to the high court from prison.
They have claimed that there is serious infirmity in the trials: the judge is not hearing their side, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam is allowed to ask leading questions to the witnesses and adequate opportunity is not given to defend themselves. They also mentioned other grievances with regards to food in prison.
The same application was made before the session’s court which was rejected in October on the ground that proper opportunity to defend them was being given and that there was no prejudice against them.
After going through the pleadings and the sessions court order, the HC noted: “It’s distressing to know that the accused who are represented by the advocates in the lower court are allowed to cross examine the witnesses, but they have on their own refused to cross examine them. A total of 29 witnesses have been examined in one case. It is no doubt that the every accused has the right to write a letter to the high court, but one has to consider the manner in which accused are trying to delay the progress of the trial.”
On July 31, 2012 an 18-year-old telephone operator and later on August 22, a 23-year-old photojournalist was gang-raped at the mill compound in Lower Parel. The crime branch arrested five accused, of which one was a minor.
Allegation of infirmity
The accused have claimed that there is serious infirmity in the trials: the judge is not hearing their side, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam is allowed to ask leading questions to the witnesses and adequate opportunity is not given to defend themselves. They also mentioned other grievances with regards to food in prison. Meanwhile, the court has allowed the police to videograph the accused in the court premises for their safety.