Mujhe Pakistan se vakil karna hai (I want a lawyer from Pakistan), said Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike.
The demand for a Pakistani lawyer was kept after Judge M.L. Tahilyani informed Kasab that advocate Anjali Waghmare, assigned to defend him, will not fight his case.
The court revoked Waghmare’s appointment as Kasab’s lawyer on grounds of ‘professional misconduct’.
The direction came after the court felt that Waghmare had not disclosed to the court that she had already been appointed by the Bombay High Court legal aid cell to appear for a witness in the 26/trial.
The witness, who seeks compensation from the state, was allegedly injured by Kasab and his ‘buddy pair’ partner Ismail Khan on the day of attack at Cama Hospital and approached the legal cell for aid.
Judge Tahilyani told Waghmare: “I feel you should have disclosed to the court that you had already been appointed by the legal aid cell to appear for a witness in this case.”
The court also noted that there was enough opportunity for Waghmare to inform the court about the development because she was not appointed ‘abruptly’.
“I had meetings with lawyers and legal aid cell panel members, including Waghmare, who had shown interest to defend Kasab,” observed the judge.
“It is not appropriate to continue Waghmare as advocate. Obviously, the interest of witness and accused will clash with each other. The order passed by the court is vitiated, even to a small extent, for non-disclosure of certain facts by the advocate. And there is no option but to revoke it immediately,” he added.
The court, however, retained KP Pawar, who was appointed along with Waghmare to defend Kasab.
The court will now decide on Thursday who could be appointed to defend Kasab.
Kasab’s plea for a Pakistani lawyer was accepted. The judge explained to Kasab that no foreign lawyer could directly practice in Indian courts. The court also informed Kasab that on previous occasions, even when he was in police custody, letters were sent to Pakistan through diplomatic channels. But none of the letters were replied to.
Kasab said: Ek bar aur karenge (Would want to try once more).
Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told the court that Pakistani authorities would be informed about Kasab’s request. “We will appoint a lawyer to represent his case, in case if Pakistan fails to reply by tomorrow,” said Nikam.