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?He had become a chain smoker?

What kept Singh company in the days before his conviction was solitude and packs of cigarettes, reports Naziya Alvi.
None | By Naziya Alvi, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON OCT 31, 2006 02:40 AM IST

A day before Santosh Kumar Singh was convicted on October 17 for the rape and murder of Priyadarshini Mattoo, he had received a box of sweets. “He had received it as a gift from one of his clients for getting him acquitted," said a lawyer who had worked closely with Singh.

But what kept Singh company in the days before his conviction was solitude and packs of cigarettes.

“He would stay back in his chamber till late in the night and would sit with lights off, probably to avoid attention or distraction. A lit cigarette was the only indication of his presence in the room. He had started smoking quite heavily in last few days," said another colleague of Singh.  

Soon after his acquittal in the Mattoo case in 1999, he had begun practice as a criminal lawyer. Singh was practising at the Tis Hazari courts from chamber number Y-17 under senior advocate Mahavir Prasad.

Singh is said to have established himself as a fairly capable lawyer in his six years of practice. However, he had been keeping a low profile since his case came back into the spotlight early this year. He had even removed his nameplate from outside the chamber.

Though most of his colleagues were reluctant to talk about him, they described him as one who did not make friends easily, though he was not a recluse. Those who talked about him, were not happy with the death sentence. “A life term should have been more than sufficient, he is quite young,” said another lawyer.

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