Trial in the sensational Muskan-Rithik siblings’ abduction-cum-murder case has come to a halt yet again with the newly appointed lawyer for the surviving accused Manoharan refusing to hold brief for him. Advocate T Vadivel, who was handpicked to defend Manoharan barely three days ago, has withdrawn bowing to familial and societal pressure.
This is the fourth time in less than two months the defence counsel in the case had either voluntarily withdrawn from appearing in the case or bowed out due to the reluctance of the accused in engaging them. All the lawyers were deputed by the Coimbatore District Legal Services Authority as advocates had collectively decided not to defend Manoharan considering the heinous nature of the crime .
Manoharan along with prime accused Mohana Krishnan, a school van driver, had allegedly abducted Muskan Jain (10) and her brother Rithik Jain (7) and killed them. Police had charged that the accused had also physically abused Muskan before she was murdered in October 2010. A few days after their arrest, police had gunned down Krishnan when he allegedly attempted to escape from custody. This had sparked celebrations by the public in Coimbatore.
On Thursday when the case was being heard, Vadivel informed the Mahila Court judge M P Subramaniam that he did not want to defend the accused. Later, he formally requested the Coimbatore District Legal Services Authority Secretary Ramapartiban to relieve him. When asked why he decided to opt out of the case, Vadivel cited sentimental reasons. “I am a very religious person. After I had taken up the brief to defend Manoharan, many of my relatives and friends were critical of me. They questioned me as to why agreed to defend a person who had committed such a grave sin. So I decided to withdraw,” Vadivel said.
Meanwhile, the District Legal Services Authority is in a tight spot as it is unable to find advocates who would be willing to appear on behalf of Manoharan. It is learnt that most of the panel advocates have refused to appear in the case.
The next hearing is on June 18 and a delay in finding a counsel for the accused could prolong the trial.