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'No lawyer can refuse to defend an accused'

india Updated: Dec 14, 2008 15:40 IST
No lawyer

With certain lawyer bodies declining to take up the case of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone militant arrested in the Mumbai terror attacks, eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani on Sunday maintained that no lawyer has the right to say he will not defend an accused.

"There is the express rule of the Bar Council of India that no lawyer shall refuse to defend a person on the grounds that it will make him unpopular," Jethmalani said.

"That is something that should never worry a lawyer. No lawyer worth the name should even talk about this kind of a thing," Jethmalani said and asked the legal community not to worry about peer criticism while taking up such cases.

"No lawyer has the right to say that he will not defend an accused," the eminent jurist told CNN-IBN news channel.

Asked whether he had been approached to defend the terrorist, he said, "Has Kasab asked me? Let him ask me and I will tell him. Let the Pakistan High Commission approach me and I will give them a proper reply and advise."

Jethmalani said a lawyer should advise his client on the basis of facts. "The lawyer's duty is to say that on the facts I find no defence. The man is guilty on his own confession... Unless he instructs the lawyer, the confession was obtained by some force or fraud or whatever, which is very unlikely".

"A lawyer should be able to tell him (the terrorist) that either hanging or life imprisonment is your option.

"If you want me to tell the court that you should receive life imprisonment I am prepared to do my best," Jethmalani said.

On the terror attacks, he said, "According to me, a person who thinks that by doing these actions, he is going to heaven he should be denied the chance to go to heaven, he should remain the rest of life in a jail in India".