A day after the court revoked Anjali Waghmare’s appointment as Mohammed Amir Ajmal Kasab’s lawyer, Special Judge M.L. Tahiliyani on Thursday appointed advocate S.G. Abbas Kazmi (54) to defend him.
Unlike Waghmare, Kazmi is not part of the state legal aid panel, which provides free legal assistance to those accused unable to arrange for their own lawyers. The state will pay Kazmi’s fees for defending Kasab. Tahiliyani said the court expected the state to give reasonable fees to Kazmi.
With this appointment, the special court is now ready to start the trial from Friday.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam objected to the appointment of a private lawyer, arguing that it would set a precedent. “Ultimately, it’s government money,” he said.
Kazmi, who was present in court, took exception to Nikam’s statement about government money. “The special public prosecutor cannot have it both the ways - have a cake and eat it too,” he said, hinting at the fact that special public prosecutors too get good remuneration from the government.
Though Kasab had demanded a Pakistani lawyer on Wednesday, he accepted his new lawyer without a protest, saying “theek hai, sir”.
Rakesh Maria, joint commissioner of police, crime, said Kazmi would be provided “adequate” security. Security to the court-appointed counsel has become imperative after former counsel Waghmare’s house was attacked by Shiv Sainiks the day she was appointed.