COIMBATORE: In a twist to the ongoing trial of the Muskan-Rithik murder case, the surviving accused, R Manoharan, has got a new lawyer to defend him.
The Legal Aid Cell changed the panel advocate appointed for Manoharan after he alleged that his previous counsel was siding with the prosecution and not properly presenting his case.
Manoharan is one of the two accused in the chilling murder of siblings R Muskan Jain (10) and R Rithik Jain (8) that shocked the nation in October 2010. The prime-accused Mohana Krishnan, along with whom Manoharan had allegedly kidnapped and murdered the children, was subsequently killed in a police encounter.
Under judicial custody for the last one-and-half years in a prison here, Manoharan is being tried by First Additional District Judge N Shesasayee. M Irudhayaraj, a lawyer appointed by the Legal Aid Cell, was defending him.
Manoharan raised the allegations against his counsel in a letter to the Principal District Judge N Authinathan. “Advocate M Irudhayaraj is not properly placing arguments on my behalf in the court or cross-examining the witnesses.
Instead, his arguments mostly go in favour of the prosecution. So kindly change the advocate appointed to defend me and also order re-examination of all the witnesses under CrPC Section 311. I am ready to pay the necessary court fee,” Manoharan has written in the letter. Following this, the District Legal Services Authority appointed S Rajendran to appear on behalf of Manoharan in the case.
The trial in one of the most keenly followed cases has almost neared completion as cross-examination of 42 out of the 45 crucial witnesses has already been completed. If the court allows re-examination of the witnesses, the trial is expected to be prolonged further.