Indian university students shout slogans during protest march in New Delhi on Dec 31, 2012. — Photo by AFP

NEW DELHI: Lawyers at an Indian court hearing the case of a fatal gang-rape which has shocked the nation said on Wednesday they would refuse to defend the men accused of taking part in the assault and murder.

Hearings are expected to begin on Thursday at the Saket district court in south New Delhi, where police will formally present a 1,000-page charge sheet against the six-person gang.

“We have decided that no lawyer will stand up to defend the rape accused as it would be immoral to defend the case,” Sanjay Kumar, a lawyer and a member of the Saket District Bar Council, told AFP.

Kumar said the 2,500 advocates registered at the court have decided to “stay away” to ensure “speedy justice”, meaning the government would have to appoint lawyers for the defendants.

Another lawyer at the court confirmed the boycott to AFP.

Five men are expected to face charges including rape, murder and kidnapping in the Saket court, with the prosecutor likely to seek the death sentence.

A sixth suspect is believed to be 17 years old, meaning he would be tried in a juveniles' court, but police are conducting bone tests to determine his age.

The brutality and horrific nature of the attack on a 23-year-old has led to protests in the capital and elsewhere over the widespread abuse of women and sex crime in India.

The rape victim died at the weekend after 13-day struggle to survive injuries so grievous that part of her intestines had to be removed.

She was repeatedly raped and violated with an iron bar on a bus on December 16 before being thrown from the moving vehicle at the end of a 40-minute ordeal.

In 2008, Indian lawyers also refused to defend a gunman who took part in attacks on Mumbai which killed 166 people, leaving him with a government-appointed lawyer. He was executed in November last year.

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Comments (28)

January 2, 2013 1:04 pm
As in democracy its must to have an opposition, as in a match for win a opponent team must , same in court for victory of justice, a strong argument must. i dont agree with lawyers .emotion and argument different things, every thing must to test on argument n laws . then only true justice will come
January 2, 2013 12:12 pm
seems as if you know nothing about law. :(
muzammil ullah khan
January 2, 2013 9:50 am
if it was Pakistan hundreds of lawyers would have jumped to defend the accused for a hefty fee ! Tell me of one instance when lawyers have not defended the accused even in well publicized rape cases which were open and shut cases . Even in Mai case the lawyers defended the accused .
Madan Tiwary
January 2, 2013 5:40 pm
This is wrong. we can not deny fair trial . being an Advocate, i think, lawyers should reconsider their decision. A person unless not proved guilty is presumed to be innocent. whatever has come out is reported by media and police. denial to defend will amount to deny of justice.
January 2, 2013 10:57 am
Cheap publicity stunt by lawyers. They know it more than anybody that no court can find them guilty until they are represented by a lawyer. Moreover, court will appoint a public/govt lawyer to defend these men. I don't understand why would any sensible lawyer want these culprits to be non-represented and thereby delaying the justice. If they really feel 'bad' about this incident, they should represent the accused, plead guilty and not take any fee what so ever!!
January 2, 2013 3:05 pm
you are partially correct.. i think before being a professional one must think of being a good human being and act accordingly..even if it costs your professionalism a bad name.. its like, you are a photo generalist, you see a man dying on the road in pool of blood, what is it that you should do first.. click some snaps of the dying man or take him to nearby hospital before he dies.. should he choose to being a professional first or being a human…. its the choice one has to make and take.. what the lawyers did was professionally incorrect however if considered on the humane aspect of things, then they did what they felt was above being a professional.. i am sure if govt orders one of them to defend the accused they would do it but if given a choice they would certainly exempt themselves from defending them
January 2, 2013 10:47 am
They need a lawyer as per the LAW...or else one will be appointed by the court.
Mushtaq Ahmad
January 2, 2013 10:58 am
well done indian lawyers
January 2, 2013 9:33 am
There is a ray of hope. Lawers community in Pakistan should take note of it.
January 2, 2013 9:36 am
A lawyer is supposed to make sure that justice, is meted out properly and justly- not overpunishment nor escape from punishment. He is supposed to keep keep balance law for just punishment. Defending worst of the criminals is also necessary to make sure that he is not lynched by the hysteria of the moment. It does not mean that lawyer will need to invent false witnesses and misplaced arguments to save a criminal from punishment.
January 2, 2013 2:54 pm
But not all lawyers are loyal to country . In 26/11 case , a lawyer came out to defend kasab and that lawyer was not gov appointed, I think.
January 2, 2013 9:00 am
tlawyer should reoresent them and plead guilty, so they can be hanged quickly, even the 17 year old should be hanged, if he was mature enough to rape the he is old enough to be hanged
Agha Ata (USA)
January 2, 2013 2:57 pm
Yesss. Men need to evolve.
Upkar Gill
January 2, 2013 4:30 pm
@anil,this is democracy everyone has the right to defend him/herself till proven guilty by court of law no matter what the crime is and if proven guilty hang them.
Devendra Sharma
January 2, 2013 4:33 pm
I am really surprised by the above comment.What kind of argument we are looking for?
Sherry Manzoor
January 2, 2013 10:09 am
spot on ... if he is mature enough to rape, he is mature enough to be hanged ...
Mansoor Sajid
January 2, 2013 8:52 am
Anexcellent decisions by the lawyers and if someone does get ready to appear in the court to defend them for the purpose of financial benefits then he should also be hanged along with these criminals.
January 2, 2013 1:31 pm
irrelevant post - this is about whats happening in india and not what would have happened in a similar situation in Pakistan. No need to let loose your imaginations here.
January 2, 2013 4:45 pm
Even what they did was bad and they should be hanged they should still have a lawyer to defend them 20yrs ago here in the UK there was a very sad case of a little 4 year old boy who abducted whilst out shopping with his mother was killed and molested and dumped on a railway station by two 12year olod boys, they went to jail but they stll had lawyers who defended them plus social worker and case workers, so when you become a lawyer you cannot pick or choose who you want to defend unless you have a private practice. the gov should appoint them a defence lawyer at the end of the day they will hang anyway.
Devendra Sharma
January 2, 2013 4:37 pm
you are right on..........
Harbhajan Singh
January 2, 2013 5:12 pm
What is the big problem, a lawyer should represent the rapists and murderes and plead guilty" Me lord my clients plead guilty" We all agree that they should be hanged till death and close the chapter
Madan Tiwary
January 2, 2013 5:46 pm
Mr. anil, i salute the lawyers who defended Kasab. you have half knowledge, lawyers who conducted the case in Supreme court, donated their fee , approximately more than 10 lacs to the victim of 26/11. A lawyer Mr. Awais sheikh of pakistan is defending sarabjit in Pakistan. it is our duty . one more thing, lawyers neither manipulate facts not mislead the court rather they they bring the facts and cite the provision of law favouring their clients. one of the toughest profession.
Madan Tiwary
January 2, 2013 5:48 pm
who decide which case is open and shut ? media ? police ?
Madan Tiwary
January 2, 2013 5:51 pm
I am ready to defend . who will hang me ? you ? it is our duty to provide legal assistance . without trial how one can reach on conclusion to what extent one is guilty and whether they r guilty or not ? media is not a court. r u eye witness then come before law.
Lakhkar Khan
January 2, 2013 5:56 pm
Accusers are guilty or not, they should have the legal representation. According to the law, they are innocent till proven guilty. If the law works in reverse than that is another story. I can also understand the emotions of lawyers who refused representing them but it is like a doctor refusing to treat a patient based upon his/her criminal history.
January 2, 2013 7:16 pm
Eventually someone will be selected and end up defending these animals. I feel sorry for that lawyer but I also hope a woman lawyer and a woman judge should be selected so it will consider their final insult before they all get what they deserve.
January 2, 2013 7:59 pm
Raju Ramachandran was the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court of India . Even if lawyers boycott taking up his case, the Court would still appoint a suitable lawyer whose duty is to present the facts of the case . Given the build up for this case , it seems certain that the case would be conducted daily and the verdict pronounced in 6 to 9 months time. The more interesting part would be how soon the President of India rejects the clemency petition in case of a death sentence against these lumpen elements paving the way for the eventual hanging. Wonder what the human rights organizations would say to the death sentence as they are known to be vocal in India.
January 3, 2013 5:04 am
Anil, a lawyers primary responsibility is towards his profession and his client. India is a nation of laws, where even the most hardened, obvious, unrepentent criminal has rights to due process and protection of the law. You cannot pick and choose the rights enshrined in our Constitution.
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