Senior criminal lawyers Amin Solkar and Farhana Shah will defend Pakistani gunman Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab in his appeal against his conviction in the 26/11 case.
Acting Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court J N Patel, who is also executive chairman of the Maharashtra State Legal Aid Services Authority, on Tuesday named Solkar as the lawyer who would argue the appeal. Shah, who defended many of the accused in the 1993 serial blasts case, including actor Sanjay Dutt, will assist him.
Kasab had on May 22 written a letter to the superintendent of Arthur Road prison, where he has been lodged, saying he wanted to appeal against the special court verdict awarding him capital punishment on five counts.
The prison authorities had forwarded the letter, written in Urdu, to the State Legal Aid Services Authority.
The state has to provide legal assistance to a convict if he does not have a lawyer of his own.
Advocate Solkar, who has defended many terror accused, termed the appointment as “the biggest challenge” given the considerable direct evidence available against the sole surviving 26/11 attacker.
But he added that though Kasab's trial was earlier termed an open-and-shut case, the scene would be different at the appeal stage. The lawyers will need nearly a month to file an appeal after they receive a copy of the records and proceedings of the special court.
Farhana Shah said they may meet Kasab after going through court records.
The special court had on May 3 pronounced the 22-year-old Lashkar-e-Taiba operative guilty of 80 charges, including maiming 7 persons on his own and 65 others along with slain terrorist Abu Ismail. He has been held guilty of waging war against the Government of India.
Kasab was awarded the death sentence on May 6. The Bombay High Court has to confirm the death sentence. Kasab can approach the Supreme Court if the HC upholds the order and if the SC too says he must get death, he can file a mercy petition before the President.