The five men accused of raping and murdering a medical student on a bus in the capital last month were brought to a court in South Delhi today. They will be represented by a quartet of lawyers who volunteered to handle their defence.
ML Sharma, who is among the lawyers for the accused, alleged outside court that the men are being physically tortured by the police in jail. "All the accused have been badly beaten by the police and they have used the third degree to extract the statement that suits the evidence they have collected," he said, adding that the accused "have been forced to confess to crimes that they did not commit."
The Saket Bar Association had said its members would not defend the men. The four advocates who have signed on will review the charges and evidence outlined against their clients by the Delhi Police.
At the next hearing on Monday, the trial is likely to be assigned to a fast-track court inaugurated earlier this month specially to hear this case and others involving crimes against women.
The woman who was raped was also hit with an iron rod along with a male friend after they boarded a bus last month. The couple was flung naked and battered onto the road about an hour later. The student died two weeks later.
The savagery of the assault singed India, provoking large demonstrations in Delhi and other cities, and forcing an urgent review of laws on sexual crimes.
Ram Singh, the man who had access to the bus used for the heinous attack, will be represented by VK Anand. His brother, Mukesh will be defended by ML Sharma. A lawyer named AP Singh will defend Akshay Singh, a bus cleaner and Vinay Sharma, who worked at a gym. Pawan Gupta, a fruit seller, will be defended by counsel Vivek Sharma.