Terror convict Afzal Guru himself cross-examined many witnesses during trial in the 2001 Parliament attack case, but even that didn't help him escape capital punishment.
“Initially, he didn't want to engage a lawyer for himself so the court appointed me as amicus curiae (friend of the court) to argue on his behalf. But many a times, he also cross-examined many witnesses along with me,” said advocate Neeraj Bansal, who was defending Guru in the lower court.
Bansal also refuted accusations that Guru was provided inadequate legal help during the trial. “The Supreme Court has clearly stated that Guru was provided proper legal aid during the trial,” he said.
The court proceedings record clearly show that Guru many times availed the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses.
The records also show that the first lawyer appointed by the court to defend Guru expressed his inability to accept the offer.
Lawyer Seema Gulati stepped in to defend him jointly with her junior Neeraj Bansal.
But then Gulati was engaged by another accused SAR Geelani, who was later acquitted by the high court in the case. Afterwards, Bansal alone defended him.
During court proceedings, Guru had once given names of four lawyers to the court to defend him as he felt the need for better legal aid.
But the court recorded that all four lawyers suggested by Guru had declined the offer so Bansal continued to defend him.
Guru allegedly did not interact much with his lawyer. In fact, the court record shows that at one occasion he stopped his lawyer from cross-examining a witness and admitted going to a shop for buying the car that was used in the attack on the Parliament.