File: Clockwise from left, Gangrape convicts Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta (face covered), Akshay Thakur and Mukesh Singh being taken to High court in New Delhi.
In a desperate bid to escape punishment, two of the six accused in the Delhi gangrape case today told a court that they want to become witnesses on behalf of the state while two others pleaded for legal aid.
Out of four accused, who were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler inside her chamber after expiry of their 14-days of judicial remand, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma refused to take the service of legal aid counsel and expressed their willingness to become witnesses in the gangrape-cum-murder case.
Besides the two, Ram Singh and his brother Mukesh who were also produced before the court, have asked for legal aid counsel in the case for their defence.
Legal experts feel that an accused cannot hope to become a witness especially in a case of heinous crime like the Delhi gangrape-cum-murder to escape punishment.
Usually in a case where investigators find it difficult to gather evidence, they could ask for an accused to become an approver to get crucial evidence and in return, the accused could get lighter sentence or escape punishment, the experts said.
The magistrate, meanwhile, extended their judicial remand till January 19, and asked them to appear before the court concerned on January 7 as per the production warrant issued to them after taking cognisance of the charge sheet filed against the accused on January 3.
"All the accused persons were informed that they can seek legal aid in the case, if they have not engaged any counsel. Accused Pawan and Vinay have refused to take service of the legal aid counsel and have submitted that they want to become witnesses on behalf of the state," the magistrate said in the order dictated in the open court room after the accused were sent back to jail.
The court also said, "Accused Ram and Mukesh have not engaged counsel so they want legal aid. They be provided the legal aid counsel."
"Let all the four accused persons be produced before the court concerned on January 7."
The magistrate in her order said, "Accused Pawan and Vinay have been directed to move an appropriate application to become witnesses in the case before the court concerned."
The fifth accused arrested in the case Akshay Thakur will also be produced before a court tomorrow as he is in judicial custody till January 9.
However, the case of sixth accused - a minor - will be heard by a Juvenile Justice Board.
While the accused were produced before the judge in her chamber, she dictated the order in open court room and no direction was given by her for prohibiting any media person from publishing or printing the proceedings.
A court had taken cognisance of the charge sheet against five of the accused yesterday under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (2)(g) (gangrape), 377 (unnatural offences), 395 (dacoity), 396 (murder in dacoity), 394 (hurting in dacoity), 201 (destruction of evidence), 120-B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention) and 412 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) of the IPC.
The victim, a paramedical student, was brutally raped and assaulted in a moving bus here on the night of December 16 and died of her injuries on December 29 in multi-speciality Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.