A question mark hangs over the continuation of S G Abbas Kazmi as the lawyer for 26/11 terror attack accused Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab after the special court found him guilty of lying on Thursday - the first anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.
The issue rocked the special court when Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam expressed his intention to seek the court's permission to examine 340 more formal witnesses in the terror attacks trial.
These would be in addition to the 271 witnesses already examined so far in person by Nikam in the past nearly eight months during the trial.
"However, these would be examined only through affidavits filed by them, and then it would be up to the defence lawyer whether to summon them for cross-examination or not," Nikam told IANS.
Upon Nikam's submission, Kazmi got up and said he was not informed of this development.
Nikam, however, pointed out to Special Judge M L Tahaliyani that not only had he expressed his intention to examine the formal witnesses through an affidavit right at the early stages of the trial in May, but on Nov 17 even sent all the copies of the 340 affidavits to Kazmi.
Accepting his contention, Tahaliyani termed Kazmi's denial as "a crystal clear lie" and said that all this had happened in the open court in the presence of the defence lawyer.
"How can you now deny it?" Tahaliyani demanded of Kazmi.
The defence lawyer said that he was not aware that the prosecution would be examining these 340 witnesses through affidavits.
Tahaliyani warned that if the defence lawyer continued with such an attitude, the court would have to consider whether he should be allowed to continue with the trial or not.
Nikam said that if Kazmi tendered an unconditional apology, then he should be allowed to continue. Otherwise, the special court could take a decision in the matter.
Kazmi said if the court so desired, he was prepared to withdraw from the case.
Tahaliyani has kept the matter for his ruling on Friday.
Meanwhile, Nikam - who was planning to complete the ongoing examination of witnesses on Thursday - said that the new list of 340 formal witnesses would not have delayed the trial in any manner, barring the delays from the defence side.
In case Kazmi is replaced, he will be the second defence lawyer for Kasab to face the axe.
Advocate Anjali Waghmare was removed earlier this year after the special court found her guilty of professional misconduct, resulting in clash of interests following her appointment to represent Kasab.