Nannapaneni Rajakumari said that advocates should refrain from arguing on behalf of the rape accused in courts.

Chairperson of AP Womens Rights body slammed for saying rape accused dont need lawyersFacebook/Nannapaneni Rajakumari
news Controversy Thursday, July 19, 2018 - 18:28

Nannapaneni Rajakumari, the chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Women's Rights Commission, has stoked a controversy by lauding the Madras High Court Advocates Association’s (MHCAA) decision of not representing the 17 men who have been arrested for allegedly raping a 11-year-old girl in Chennai. By doing so, she has reiterated her position that rape accused should not be given any legal representation.

The chairperson, who was partaking in an awareness meeting on women's rights on Wednesday at Rajamahendravaram, told reporters that she appreciates the MHCAA for not representing the rape accused. She further appealed to advocates in Andhra Pradesh to follow suit and not represent rape accused in court, reported The Hans India.

When TNM sought clarification from the chairperson on her statement, she said, “This has been my position for many years. I have talked about this many times [to lawyers], to not argue on behalf of the rape accused.”

When questioned if her position is against the principles of natural justice, she said, “What is wrong in advocates not representing them? When these rapists act like beasts and rape a child, how will they argue?”

When asked how she can determine who is a rapist without conducting a fair trial, she evaded the question and refused to answer further.

Advocates and activists have equally condemned her remarks, and asked her not to get carried away by emotions and make such statements when she holds a responsible position.

“The chairperson should stop getting swayed by emotions and sentiments, and should avoid making such statements being the chairperson of a statutory body,” said Human Rights Forum activist, K Sudha.

Sudha was earlier practising as an advocate.

“It is unconstitutional to deny legal representation to any accused. Without a trial, how can she determine who is a culprit and who is not? Doesn’t she know that a person is innocent until proven guilty?” she questioned.

Sudha further said that the advocates have professional ethics and obligations which they have to abide by.

“The advocates have professional ethics, they cannot deny representing an accused, because he’s already been declared a culprit before the trial commences. Advocates have their own principles,” she said.

She also condemned the MHCCA’s decision against representing the accused.

“People should not be driven by moral conscience. Ours is a democracy. What is the use of courts when people are labelling accused as culprits without a trial?”  she asked.

Hyderabad based advocate Vasudha Nagaj said, “It is wrong to make such comments and espouse such views.”

“Even if a person commits a heinous crime, it is unfair and unconstitutional to deny his right to representation," she added. 

On July 17, Chennai woke up to the news that 17 men had been accused of raping a 11-year-old girl with hearing impairment. While some of them allegedly raped the girl and threatened her against revealing the crime to her parents, a few others stand accused of being part of the crime by watching visuals of the assault and concealing it.

Subsequently, when the accused were taken to the Madras Court, the agitated advocates thrashed them and the MHCAA took the unanimous decision of not representing the accused. They further warned that the membership of lawyers who did not abide by the decision would be cancelled.