Special Public Prosecutor: Ujjwal Nikam
54 year old Ujjwal Nikam has become the first choice for the state government when it comes to prosecuting accused persons in high profile cases; be it the March 1993 Bombay Blasts Case (BBC) or the 26/11 carnage or the controversial Khairlanji killings, where a dalit family was murdered by members of upper caste.
Nikam is the only lawyer who has a security equivalent to that of a cabinet minister, considering the threat to his life.
And the reasons for the states’ preference are justified when one takes a look at statistics secured by the Jalgaon borne lawyer. Nikam has secured life imprisonment for a whopping 615 accused and capital punishment for 34 other criminals ever since he first handled a case as a special public prosecutor in 1989.
Starting his career on the civil side in 1978 as a legal advisor to the Zilla Parishad, State Bank of India and the state transport commission, Nikam took up criminal practice in 1987. He began his prosecutor’s career in 1987 as a District Government Pleader (DGP) of Jalgaon.
Nikam hit international headlines when he was appointed as special public prosecutor for prosecuting 21 year old Pakistani national, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving 26/11 attacker.
Other prominent cases this year included, acquiring a conviction for incarcerated police constable Sunil More who raped a girl in the Marine Drive police chowky in April 2005.
Other sensitive cases which he handled are, the murder of national junior tennis player Kartik Raj in Pune, the Anjanabai Gavit case where the Supreme Court upheld the death sentences, Kothewadi mass rape case in Ahmednagar, the multiple family murders of the Rathi in Pune, the Bal Hatyakand of Kolhapur, Kalyan-Dombivili blast case and the case against a Khalistan terrorist in Nashik. These are just a few in the long list of cases.
Amin Solkar (53)
Solkar started his career as an advocate in 1985. For the first two years, he worked as a junior advocate with his father.
After starting his independent practise in 1987, he specialized in criminal cases. Apart from the high court, sessions court and metropolitan magistrates’ courts, Solkar also practices in the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, Motor Accident Claims Tribunal and Maharashtra Consumers Redressal Forum.
In his 25 years of experience, he has handled several bomb blasts cases, like the 11/7 train blasts of 2006, Mulund bomb blasts of 1998 and the Malegaon bomb blast of 2006. He is also defending some accused in the Aurangabad arms haul case and also the Malegaon sex scandal case.
Solkar has handled one death confirmation, where the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment.
He is also appointed as a special public prosecutor by the Maharashtra government in two murder cases of Pant Nagar and Nagpada. The cases are still pending.
His personal favourite is the acquittal of an accused in the Chhaya Liquor Bar. On the new year night of 1992, 104 persons had died after consuming hooch. Eight persons were arrested, of which only Solkar’s client was acquitted.
Farhana Shah (45)
Farhana Shah started her career in 1991 as a junior to senior counsel TH Sardar. Initially, Sardar was handling the 1993 bomb blasts case when Shah was still his junior.
After she went independent in 1993, then special judge JN Patel, who is now Chief Justice of the Calcutta high court, asked her to appear for one of the accused.
Getting her first client -- Janu Kamlya Wedkoli, accused in 1993 bomb blasts case -- she later appeared for 80 accused. Wedkoli was discharged by the special court in 1995.
Having made a name in handling terrorism cases, Shah also appears for some of the alleged Indian Mujahideen operatives.
She also handles cases under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.
She believes in taking up selective cases instead of taking many cases. As a policy, she stays away from rape cases and also cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
“I feel sorry for the people who are affected by narcotics and hence do not appear for accused under the NDPS Act. Even rape cases, there are chances of a man being falsely implicated, but I feel for women victims,” said Shah.
Ejaz Naqvi (30)
Ejaz Naqvi was the first lawyer to file vakalatnama in 26/11 attack case for Sabauddin.
Youngest of the six siblings, Naqvi started his education in Mumbai. After completing his higher secondary, he shifted to Lucknow. He completed his LLB from Lucknow University and returned to Mumbai to practise law.
In 2003, he taught law in Rizvi Law College in Bandra. During the mornings, he would give lectures and later in the day, work as a junior with noted criminal lawyer Majeed Memon.
In 2008, he started his individual practise as a legal advisor with the BPL Mobile Communications Limited.
However, he quit the legal advisor job to practice law.
His first case as an independent advocate was that of Sayed Aminuddin who was arrested in 2008 for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Aminuddin was acquitted by the sessions court at Gujarat and the appeal is pending in the Gujarat high court.
His father Sayed Hasan Abbas Naqvi retired as a district health inspector, Lucknow. His mother passes away when he was two years old.
RB Mokashi (56)
RB Mokashi, who is defending Fahim Ansari, completed his LLB from the Government Law College in 1982.
Instead of working as a junior to any counsel, Mokashi decided to start his independent practice. “People initially laughed at me when I decided to become a lawyer. No one in my family is a lawyer. I took that up as a challenge and now I have proved them all wrong,” said Mokashi.
His first case was of a motorcyclist who was charged for running down a constable in 1987. The man approached Mokashi even before he was awarded the Sanat (certificate to practice as lawyer before a court). Mokashi, who was already registered with the Bar Council was permitted to represent the man.
Apart from handling several cases as a defence counsel, Mokashi is special public prosecutor for the Crime Investigation Department which is probing the case of custodial death of Pota detenue Khwaja Yunus.
Mokashi is also appearing for accused in the train blasts in the city on July 11, 2006 and the Aurangabad arms haul case.
Known mainly for his criminal cases, Mokashi also handles property matters, tenancy and rent act matters and insurance cases.
Justice Ranjana Desai (61)
After completing her LL.B. in 1973, justice Ranjana Desai enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa in July 1973.
Practicing in the Bombay high court in civil as well as criminal matters, justice Desai specialized in the field of Preventive Detention.
After six years of practice, she was appointed as honorary assistant government pleader in 1979. Later she was appointed as assistant government pleader and additional public prosecutor in 1983 and in 1986 respectively.
In 1995, she was also appointed as special public prosecutor for Preventive Detention matters.
Later in April 1996, she was appointed as the government pleader.
Appointed as an Additional Judge of the high court on April 15, 1996, she was confirmed as permanent Judge on April 12, 1998.
As the high court justice, she passed various orders in public interest litigations directing the government bodies for strictly implementing noise pollution rules and regulations during Ganpati festival and also during the annual Bandra fair.
In July 2010. she set aside the discharge order of Deputy Commissioner Of Police Pradeep Sawant attached with the Anti Terrorism Squad (ATS) and senior inspector of police Vashishth Andhale from their alleged role in abetting the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam accused Abdul Karim Telgi. Even the Supreme Court upheld the setting aside of their discharge.
Justice Ranjit Vasantrao More (51)
Hailing from Nimsod village in Satara district, justice More did his schooling from Kolhapur and obtained Law Degree from Sangli. He stood second in the merit list of the Shivaji University, Kolhapur in LL.B.
He was also awarded National Merit Scholarship for pursuing further studies. He came to Mumbai and did his LL.M. from the Mumbai University.
After enrolling as an advocate with the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa in September, 1983, he joined the chamber of then senior counsel A.P. Shah. Shah was later appointed as the Bombay high court judge. He retired last year as chief justice of the Delhi high court.
Practicing mainly in the appellate side matters, justice More appeared in several Constitutional, Civil and Criminal matters on behalf of Municipal Council, Municipal Corporations, District Central Cooperative Banks, Sugar Factories, Election Commission and Maharashtra Public Service Commission.
He also appeared in several important matters and also in Public Interest Litigations.
He was elevated as an additional judge of high court on September 8, 2006 and was appointed as a permanent Judge on September 5, 2008.