Shiv sainiks who attacked the house of an advocate willing to represent Mumbai terror accused Ajmal Amir Kasab and bar associations that have asked lawyers not to defend him may be inadvertently helping the Pakistani national.
It may be an easy case to secure conviction but a superior court can easily set it aside if Kasab pleads that he did not get proper legal aid.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly said a trial in which the accused did not get an opportunity to defend himself can be declared invalid. Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan recently criticised bar bodies for asking lawyers not to defend Kasab, saying it would undermine the credibility of the trial.
Experts said if Kasab was not defended, the process to punish him cannot start.
“Those objecting to legal aid to Kasab are in fact playing into the hands of terrorists, though not consciously,” said senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who represented Parliament attack case convict Md. Afzal in the Delhi High Court. “If the trial cannot begin how can he be convicted?”
Noted criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani, who defended Indira Gandhi’s killers, reacted strongly to the attack on lawyer Mahesh Deshmukh’s house.
“It is also a form of terrorism against our Constitutional values,” he said. “These people are so ignorant that they think that if the accused gets a good lawyer, he will be acquitted… Even 100 lawyers can’t save him (Kasab).”
Bar Council of India Chairman S.N.P. Sinha said: “Lawyers should not refuse to take up a case unless interested in the case of the other side… Passing such resolutions amounts to misconduct.” He said until convicted, an accused is presumed innocent.