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Lawyers on the battlefield

india Updated: Feb 14, 2009 00:12 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal

Khalid Khan (32 years): Handling the cases of six Nithari victims, he has withstood pressure from the high and the mighty to get justice for his poor clients, most of whom are migrant workers from Bengal. On Friday, Khan's efforts paid off. The CBI court awarded death penalty to Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli.

“I was threatened and thrashed by fellow lawyers during the trial as I was fighting for poor. Several cases were also registered against me in Dehradun and other places, but I never gave up,” said Khan.

Families of the victims hold Khan in high esteem. “I had their full support. I was so upset with the way two criminals had destroyed so many innocent lives. It was a shame for the humanity. What was more appalling was the fact that nobody took up cudgels on behalf of the hapless families of the victims as they did not have any money,” he said.

Khan said he charged a minimal fee from the families of the victims.

Khan said his task was not complete till all the cases related to Nithari victims were brought to a conclusion. "All my critics allegations have been answered today," he said.

Pandher’s lawyers

Devraj Singh (38 years): Practicing in Ghaziabad Court as a criminal lawyer since 1990, Singh took over as Moninder Singh Pandher’s defence lawyer when nobody else came forward to fight his case. In fact, soon after the Nithari case started, the Noida Bar Association passed a resolution not to represent them. On the first day of the hearing, Singh and his colleague Manoj Gupta were beaten up in the Ghaziabad court for taking up cudgels on behalf of Pandher.

Singh took up Pandher's case in March 2007 after the accused was thrashed by a mob in Ghaziabad court during a hearing. Pandher’s family had approached him to take up the case.

Manoj Gupta, (40 years): He is the second defence lawyer who took up Pandher's case in March 2007 along with Devraj Singh. He also faced a lot of criticism for defending Pandher. Gupta said he did not have any regrets. “Our colleagues looked down on us. But we were not deterred,” he said.

Koli's lawyer

Kalu Ram (44 years): Ram was on the panel as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) and was appointed by the government to fight the case on behalf of Surendra Koli. He holds the distinction of being the only lawyer to take up Koli's case as the other panel lawyers withdrew from the case during the trial.

“This is my first high-profile case and I knew that the case against Koli was difficult. No lawyer wanted to take up a seemingly lost case. When the government approached me, I accepted the case as according to me everybody has a right to be defended,” said Ram.

Ram will get a paltry sum of Rs 7,500 to defend Koli. “The amount is nothing as compared to what I spent.”