Senior criminal lawyer and former law minister Ram Jethmalani's decision to defend Manu Sharma in the Jessica Lall case has come as a shocker not only to Jessica's family but also to Jethmalani's.
While Jethmalani's family has failed to convince him to turn down the brief, Jessica's supporters are still trying. Taking a cue from 'Gandhigiri' popularised by the film Lage Raho Munnabhai, they plan to send flowers and text messages to the lawyer to dissuade him. Kamini Jaiswal, a criminal lawyer, says, "We plan to send roses and messages to him."
"I believe a man of his stature will do the right thing," says Sabrina Lall, Jessica's sister, who had consulted Jethmalani after the murder. "We had not retained him but had discussed the case with him in detail."
The dissent in the Jethmalani household is strong. Says Mahesh, Jethmalani's son: "Our entire family is opposed to his defending Manu. We tried to convince him that this was not a case of public importance." Jaiswal, a close friend of Jethmalani, agrees: "In a matter of this nature where public opinion is against Manu, Jethmalani should not have taken up the case. He is looked up to as an idol in the legal fraternity, as someone who would stand up for the underdog."
But Jethmalani is unmoved: "Nothing on earth will make me back out of this case. My children think if I take up this case, it will make me unpopular. But I will not refuse a case for such a reason."