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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    April 01, 2009

    A defence lawyer for Mohd. Ajmal Amir Iman

    The trial of Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman (aka Kasab) could be jeapordized by the Shiv Sena's stupid, unwarranted and illegal protest against Anjali Waghmare, who was appointed by the special court as the defence lawyer.

    I quote from section 304 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

    304. Legal aid to accused at State expense in certain cases.

    304. Legal aid to accused at State expense in certain cases.
    (1) Where, in a trial before the Court of Session, the accused is not represented by a pleader, and where it appears to the Court that the accused has not sufficient means to engage a pleader, the Court shall assign a pleader for his defence at the expense of the State.
    (2) The High Court may, with the previous approval of the State Government, make rules providing for
    (a) the mode of selecting pleaders for defence under subsection (1);
    (b) the facilities to be allowed to such pleaders by the Courts;
    (c) the fees payable to such pleaders by the Government, and generally, for carrying out the purposes of sub-section (1).
    (3) The State Government may, by notification, direct that, as from such date as may be specified in the notification, the provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2) shall apply in relation to any class of trials before other Courts in the State as they apply in relation to trials before Courts of Session.
    It is fairly obvious here that what the special court did, and what Anjali Waghmare is tasked with doing, are completely compliant with the law. Yet, should we be surprised that the Shiv Sena, which has always broken the law, is at it again?

    By opposing the appointment of a defence lawyer, the trial will take even more time, increasing the danger to Mohd. Ajmal Amir Iman's life. I really hope that Anjali Waghmare, or whoever else the court appoints in case she withdraws, doesn't get cowed down by these goondas. If the accused doesn't get a lawyer, it would give Pakistan a lot of scope to rubbish the trial, wonder about whether a Pakistani citizen will get justice and question India's judicial system. While that'd be very rich coming from a country which has signed away its political & judicial rights over Swat, it would be a fair comment. Now that is the last thing I'd like to see - Pakistan passing judgement over India's judicial system!

    At this point in time, Mohd. Ajmal Amir Khan has been charged with various crimes. That doesn't automatically make him guilty. He most certainly has a right to a fair trial, and be represented by a lawyer.

    Where was the Shiv Sena when Ram Jethmalani, who had represented Haji Mastan, Indira Gandhi's assassins & Harshad Mehta, was made Law Minister in the NDA government of which they were a part? Jethmalani later represented Manu Sharma, Ketan Parikh, Sanjay Dutt, Jayalalitha, Lalu Prasad Yadav, SAR Geelani, etc. Was he wrong in doing so? Of course not. As a professional, he did the right thing. Did he endanger the country by defending these people? I don't think so. He perhaps enhanced the judicial system's reputation. If his arguments were so convincing and if the prosecution's case was so weak that the accused got away, then why fault him for it?

    If the Shiv Sena has a problem with section 304 and does not want it to be applied for trials involving acts of terrorism/war against the state or wants that it should only apply for Indian citizens, it should begin a campaign to change the law or promise that if the NDA came to power, the party would force a change in the law.

    That is one of the main problems we have. A lot of people, especially those in power or those wielding power without authority, don't realize that you have to function within the ambit of the law that exists at that point in time. If you disagree with what the law says, work to change it! Don't impose your preferences on others. Drive the change that you want to see!

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