The special court conducting the 26/11 trial on Monday removed Syed Gholam Abbas Kazmi, the lawyer representing the sole surviving terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab, for not cooperating and wasting the court's time.
The sacking came three days after the court had accused Kazmi of lying and later accepting his unconditional apology for not cooperating.
However, Judge M.L. Tahaliyani was in no mood to give another chance to the defence lawyer on Monday.
Once the court was in session the judge asked Kazmi if he wanted to cross-examine any of the claimants of victim's bodies out of the list of 71 submitted by the prosecution. Instead of answering the query, Kazmi insisted that the court consider his reply, saying it covered everything.
Kazmi maintained that all the witnesses, whose evidence prosecution intended to tender on affidavits, were not formal, even though the judge tried to impress upon him that the witnesses were formal.
Irked with the non-co-operation, the judge then declared Kazmis' removal with immediate effect, and asked K.P Pawar to be prepared to defend Kasab.
"It appears he has developed a feeling that he has become indispensable and that without him the court cannot work, and the trial cannot be completed," observed the judge in Kazmi's termination order adding, "In my view this feeling is necessary to be erased."
Kazmi refused to comment. The change in the defence counsel is unlikely to affect the trial. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam described the episode as unfortunate but asserted that it will not hamper the progress of the trial, which will end soon.
The judge also said, "I know Mr. Pawar will not have any difficulties in defending the accused number 1 as he is aware of the proceedings from day one." The judge added, "In fact because of his able assistance Kazmi could cross-examine the prosecution witnesses."
Pawar, who later admitted that all the 71 witnesses were formal in nature (not essential for cross examination) assured that "he will do his best”.