Obtaining legal representation for Mohammed Ajmal Amir Qasab has become a challenge for the Indian authorities.The sole surviving Mumbai attacks suspect is having trouble finding a lawyer to represent him in court. So far, two lawyers turned his case down and a 1,000-strong lawyers’ association says none of its members will act for him. Furthermore, lawyers that even suggest representing Qasab are being threatened.
When Mr Qasab’s remand was extended for two weeks, a lawyer approached by the legal aid panel refused to appear for him. Dinesh Mota said he refused on moral grounds. “I said even if I lose my licence to practise, I will not represent him. I feel as if he has killed my family members. It was an attack on my family when he opened fire on Indians at CST station.”
A similar situation occurred after the July 2006 Mumbai train bombings, when local politician, Raj Thackeray, threatened lawyers not to take up the cases of the accused.
PA Sebastian, of the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights stated, “No lawyer can be forced to take up the matter. At the same time there should be no resolutions by lawyers’ bodies dissuading advocates from taking up this case. Any campaigning against him would be against the principle of the Indian judicial system.”
Indian law mandates that any accused – Indian or foreign – is entitled to free legal aid if no practicing private lawyer represents him, or if the accused cannot afford the court fees. This is a constitutional right of any accused who has committed an alleged crime on Indian soil.
Qasab’s remand comes up for further extension on December 24th.
Source: BBC NEWS