The two men accused in the Nithari serial killing case have no attorney a month after their arrest amid a boycott by local lawyers. The delay will favour the suspects, experts say.
The Supreme Court, which transferred the Srinagar prostitution case from Jammu to Chandigarh last year due to a similar boycott by lawyers, has reiterated a key constitutional provision.
A trial in which an accused is not given an opportunity to defend himself can be later declared void ab-initio (invalid from the beginning).
Businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surendra Koli are accused of sexually assaulting and killing dozens of people, mainly children. Local lawyers have refused to represent them, and were part of the mob that assaulted the accused on Thursday at a Ghaziabad court.
The accused who do not have or cannot afford legal aid are provided a lawyer — amicus curae (friend of the court) by judges at government expense.
Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan said instead of the boycott, the choice should have been left to the lawyers. "Bar associations have no right to put pressure on them," he said.
"Many principles of natural justice have already been violated in the case of the accused," said RC Tiwari, a lawyer empanelled with the Delhi Legal Services Authority (DLSA).
Another lawyer on the DLSA panel, M.M. Gupta, said the stand of the UP bar "is highly condemnable". Moninder’s son Karan Pandher said many lawyers were ready to defend his father but they were apprehensive about the surcharged atmosphere created by the local bar.
Email Harish V Nair: harish .email@example.com