‘Refusing to defend terrorists, rapists unconstitutional’
Decrying the growing tendency among bar associations to pass resolutions preventing advocates from accepting briefs of persons such as 26/11 accused Ajmal Kasab, the Supreme Court has declared all such resolutions unconstitutional and against professional ethics.delhi Updated: Dec 08, 2010 00:35 IST
Decrying the growing tendency among bar associations to pass resolutions preventing advocates from accepting briefs of persons such as 26/11 accused Ajmal Kasab, the Supreme Court has declared all such resolutions unconstitutional and against professional ethics.
“The action of any Bar Association in passing such a resolution that none of its members will appear for a particular accused, whether on the ground that he is a policeman or on the ground that he is a suspected terrorist, rapist, mass murderer, etc. is against all norms of the Constitution, the statute and professional ethics,” a bench headed by justice Markandey Katju said.
"Professional ethics requires that a lawyer cannot refuse a brief, provided a client is willing to pay his fee, and the lawyer is not otherwise engaged…it is against the great traditions of the Bar which has always stood up for defending persons accused for a crime,” it said.
Quashing the counter criminal cases filed by policemen and lawyers of Coimbatore during an agitation in 2007, the SC said it was lawyers duty to defend an accused and “a lawyer, who refuses to do so, is not following the message of the Gita.” The Coimbatore Bar Association passed a resolution that none of its members will defend the accused policemen. Terming such resolution “a disgrace to the legal community”, the SC declared all such resolutions of bar associations in India “null and void”, adding, that right-minded lawyers should ignore and defy such them
The Madras High Court had ordered a compensation of R50,000 to advocate AS Mohammed Rafi who was allegedly assaulted by policemen during the incident. The SC enhanced it to R1.50 lakh.
"Every person, however, wicked, deprived, vile, degenerate, perverted, loathsome, execrable, vicious or repulsive, he may be regarded by society, has a right to be defended in a court of law,” the SC said.