Delhi gang-rape: Bus owner to depose in court as witness today

A 23-year-old girl was gang-raped by six persons on December 16 last year.

New Delhi: The owner of the bus, in which a 23-year-old girl was gang-raped by six persons on December 16 last year, will on Thursday be produced as a prosecution witness to find out who he had handed over the custody of the vehicle on the fateful night.

On Wednesday, Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna issued warrant for Thursday for bus owner Dinesh Yadav and directed him to be present as a prosecution witness.

Yadav is lodged in Tihar Jail after his arrest for cheating while procuring the bus licences and plying it on Delhi roads illegally.

"Considering the facts and circumstances and as offence was committed inside the bus, it is important to find out as to who he had handed over the custody of the bus on the night of December 16, 2012. His evidence becomes relevant. Hence, it is just and proper to call prosecution witness Dinesh Yadav," the court had said.

The court also summoned as prosecution witness Ramadhar, a carpenter who was robbed by the accused in the bus before they gang-raped the woman.

The judge`s direction came on the application of police for its permission to call Yadav and Ramadhar as a prosecution witnesses in the case.

Police in their application said that Ramadhar`s testimony could show that the accused on the night of the incident had conspired to commit offences with commuters on the bus.

Not summoning the two witnesses may be perceived as being unfair to the accused, the police application said.

Counsel for accused Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh -- who are facing trial for the gang-rape and murder of the woman, besides for offences under various other sections of the Indian Penal Code - opposed the prosecution`s move.

Counsel appearing for Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur argued that since police had dropped Yadav`s name as a witness from their list, he could not be summoned.

The court had rejected the submission and said since the prosecution evidence was going on, there was no harm in calling any such witness.

The case relates to a 23-year-old physiotherapist woman who was brutally tortured and gang-raped in a moving bus by five men and a juvenile, after she boarded the vehicle with her male friend.

The juvenile is facing proceedings before a Juvenile Justice Board, while the four other accused were put up for trial in the fast-track court. One of the accused allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail, where he was lodged.