A month after being sentenced to death for the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab has filed an appeal in the Bombay High Court challenging the verdict and sought a lawyer from the legal aid panel to argue his case.
Kasab filed the appeal through the jail authorities and his plea for a lawyer has been forwarded to the Court Legal Services Committee (HCLSC), jail sources said on Friday.
The HCLSC would now forward Kasab's request for a lawyer before Acting Chief Justice J N Patel, who is patron in chief of Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority and senior Judge and Chairperson of HCLSC, Justice Ranjana Desai.
Kasab has a right to remain present before the High Court bench which would hear his appeal and in such an event the state would have to ensure that he is brought amidst tight
security from the Arthur Road Jail where he is currently lodged.
Although Kasab had 60 days to decide on filing an appeal, he exercised his choice within a month and his petition along with the 1500-page judgement has been forwarded to the High Court, they said.
The trial court had on May 3 convicted Kasab and soon thereafter sentenced him to death for the massacre of 166 persons in the worst-ever terror attack in the country at the behest of Pakistan-based terrorist organisation Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Kasab was also held guilty of waging war against India, guilty of being a member of LeT and attempt to murder, kidnap and robbery.
The state government is also contemplating to file an appeal against the acquittal of two co-accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, who were charged with providing maps of terror targets to LeT, official sources said.
The trial court has also forwarded the judgement to the High Court for confirmation of death penalty awarded to Kasab.
The High Court would simultaneously hear Kasab's appeal against his conviction, state's appeal against acquittal of two co-accused and confirmation of death penalty awarded to the 22-year-old LeT footsoldier who had held the city to a 60-hour siege along with companions and indulged in mayhem.
In the trial court, Kasab was provided with free legal aid after he pleaded that he could not afford to engage a lawyer of his choice.
Judge M L Tahaliyani appointed Abbas Kazmi and K P Pawar to defend him. Later, Kazmi was removed by the Judge on the ground of non-cooperation while Pawar continued to represent him.
The Constitution gives a right to a person to engage a lawyer to defend him in a court of law and if he cannot afford a lawyer of his choice then he can use the services of one from the state's legal aid panel at Government expense, legal experts said.