Two have offered evidence, possibly in return for a lighter sentence, reports the Guardian.

None of the men have defence lawyers, after members of the bar association in the South Delhi district refused them representation.

While the men will be assigned lawyers by the court before the trial begins, experts say their lack of legal advice so far could give them grounds for appeal later should they be found guilty. A teenager who is also accused will likely be tried in a juvenile court.

“The accused has a right to a lawyer from point of arrest – the investigations are going on, statements being taken, it is totally illegal,” said Colin Gonsalves, a senior supreme court advocate and director of Delhi’s Human Rights Law Network.

The five men, along with a teenager, are accused of raping the 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in New Delhi. She died two weeks later.

Her case sparked outcry across India, which has prompted the government to bring in tougher punishments for offenders. Official data shows one rape is reported on average every 20 minutes in India.

A panel is considering suggestions to make the death penalty mandatory for rape and introducing forms of chemical castration for the guilty.