Sena ransacks office of lawyer who offers to defend terrorist

December 15th, 2008 - 8:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Nagpur, Dec 15 (IANS) A lawyer who offered to legally represent Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist in the 26/11 carnage caught alive by Mumbai Police, was Monday the target of wrath of Shiv Sena activists.A group of Shiv Sena activists ransacked the office of lawyer Mahesh Deshmukh in Amravati, about 180 km from here, after he declared his inclination to plead for Ajmal. Along with his accomplice Ismail, Ajmal killed scores of innocent people in Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus as well as three top police officers.

Deshmukh told IANS that he was undeterred by the attack and public hostility and was firm on appearing for the “alleged terrorist”.

“I want to do this because it is the constitutional right of every accused to engage a lawyer and of every lawyer to hold the brief for any accused, and it is left to the court to decide whether the accused is guilty or not,” Deshmukh said.

Deshmukh has moved an application before the Mumbai sessions court, seeking permission to meet Ajmal who has been remanded in the Anti Terrorist Squad’s police custody till Dec 24.

A Mumbai-based lawyer last week turned down the court’s request to hold Ajmal’s brief. To this, eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani, who had held the brief for the late prime minister Indira Gandhi’s assassins, said that a lawyer has no right to do so.

Asked whether the constitutional right of an accused to engage a lawyer is available to a foreign national, Deshmukh said since the alleged crime has been committed in India, the case will be prosecuted in this country and thus the right will automatically extend to any accused irrespective of his or her nationality.

Deshmukh said a lawyer holding the brief for an accused does not mean he stands for the crime. “He (the defence lawyer), along with the prosecution lawyer, is only helping the court in arriving at the truth and do justice… And this is irrespective of whether the case in question is a routine one or extraordinary like a terrorist act.”

Refuting a suggestion that he was doing this to gain publicity, Deshmukh said much to the contrary he was incurring huge popular hostility which, he feared, would last long.

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