NEW DELHI, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- India's Supreme Court Monday accepted a plea from one of the six accused in the horrific Delhi gangrape case to move the trial to a location outside the national capital.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir agreed to hear the petition Tuesday after the defense counsel for the accused Mukesh Singh pleaded with the apex court for an urgent hearing on the ground that free and fair hearing would not be possible in the special court recently set up in the Indian capital due to strong public sentiments against him.
"The sentiment has gone into the root of each home in Delhi by which even the judicial officers and the state are not spared and in these circumstances, he cannot get justice in Delhi at all," the accused said in his petition filed by his defense counsel M.L. Sharma.
Legal experts and police say even if the Supreme Court orders shifting of the trial venue, as such it would not be of any benefit to the five of the six accused who have been slapped with rape and murder charges which carry a maximum punishment of death penalty. The sixth accused is likely to be tried in a juvenile court if proved to be a minor, below 18 years of age.
"The defense counsel is first trying to diffuse the public sentiments by seeking a change of venue of the trial. Next he could try to prove that his client was not present on the bus on which the 23-year-old medical student was gangraped by the six accused on December 16. He will try to use the loopholes in the legal system to help his client. Ultimately it may not help," said Delhi-based lawyer Samar Verma.
However, the experts say though the case has been assigned to the fast track court where the proceedings would be held on a day- to-day basis, the case may not be fully open and shut as shoddy forensic practice is one of the main reasons for a relatively low conviction rate in rape trials.
This, they said, despite the Delhi Police gathering DNA samples from bloodstains on clothes of all five accused, curtains and seats on the bus and linking them with the victim who died earlier this year at a hospital in Singapore, after being shifted from a government hospital in the Indian capital. The experts say the government prosecutor will have to fight hard for fast conviction in this case.
"The forensic practices in this country are very shoddy. The victims' defense counsel may try to exploit this, though ultimately the accused may not get away with the horrific crime which shocked India and triggered massive public outcry," Verma said.
Sources in the Delhi Police said that the investigators would also show the special court evidence of mobile phone records between some of the accused after the incident which they intend to use to reveal link between the six men accused of the gruesome crime.
A senior police official, unwilling to be named, said that the conviction rate in India is one of the lowest in the world and that is why many accused get acquittal after a long and delayed trail. "Moreover, lack of proper investigation by the police also help the accused," he said.
But he added: "According to government statistics, a woman is raped every 20 minutes in India. Many go unnoticed. But this case has sparked public outcry. So, the accused may get conviction because of the limelight the case hogged. The judicial system needs a revamp. People always blame the police but what about the judicial system."
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