Senior advocate Rohini Salian was appointed to defend the mother-daughter duo sentenced to death for kidnapping and killing Pune-based orthopaedic surgeon Deepak Mahajan in December 2007.
The division bench of Justice J N Patel and Justice Murdula Bhatkar on Thursday appointed Salian after Leena and Deepti Devsthali consented to take assistance from a defence lawyer.
The mother-daughter duo was sentenced to death on December 27, 2007, by the Pune sessions court for kidnapping and killing Dr Mahajan. They had sought ransom from doctor’s wife after killing him.
The convicted duo had argued their own case before the trial court, which sentenced them to death.
The matter then came to the Bombay High Court for confirmation of their sentence — as it is mandatory in death sentences cases.
The Devsthalis filed an appeal against their sentences.
Earlier they had refused to either engage a lawyer or take assistance from a legal aid lawyer stating “they did not have faith in lawyers since they tend to manipulate facts.”
In April, they also wrote to Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Bilal Nazki — whose bench was earlier hearing the matter — claiming the prosecution had connived to get the matter transferred from Justice Nazki.
They sought that the matter be re-transferred to the bench headed by him. However, the matter is now with the bench headed by Justice Patel.
Justice Patel asked senior counsel Harshad Ponda and Salian whether they were willing to represent the Devsthalis.
Ponda said he was willing but needed time to think since he has prior commitments, while Salian immediately agreed.