New Delhi - The five accused of gang raping a 23-year-old woman on a running bus on the night of December 16 last year, were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Jyoti Kler in Saket on Monday morning, even as the age of the sixth accused, said to be a minor, continues to be a matter of debate.
Metropolitan Magistrate Kler is expected to order that a copy of the chargesheet be given to each of the five accused, after which the trial will begin in a fast-track court.
The court is likely to direct lawyers from the legal aid cell to assist in the defence of the five accused.
The sixth accused, who claims that he is 17, will be presented before a Juvenile Justice Board, which has already summoned his school principal to determine his exact age.
According to law, if school documents establish a minor's age as genuine, the juvenile will not be put through a medical test to confirm his age. The Delhi Police is reportedly keen for the minor to be put through a bone test to check his age.
If the controversy over his age is not resolved, then he could be directed to undergo a bone ossification test, which can provide the approximate age of the accused.
If the board take the view that the accused is above the age of 18, he could be tried as an adult in the fast-track court.
Reports say that two of the accused have expressed a desire to turn approvers, but the police top brass have not confirmed this yet.
Two accused-Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma-have refused to take the service of legal aid counsel and expressed their willingness to become witnesses in the case.
Two others-Ram Singh and his brother Mukesh-have asked for legal aid counsel.
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.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Magistrate Kler had on Sunday, extended their judicial remand till January 19. She had also asked them to appear before the court on January 7 as per the production warrant issued to them after taking cognisance of the chargesheet filed against the accused on January 3.
A court has taken cognisance of the chargesheet 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.