New Delhi, Sept. 3: The Supreme Court-appointed defence lawyers for Ajmal Kasab have declined to accept payment and asked that the money be used to provide legal aid to poor litigants.
Senior counsel Raju Ramachandran had represented Kasab with assistance from lawyer Gaurav Agrawal at the court’s instance.
While confirming Kasab’s death sentence on August 29, the court had directed the Maharashtra government to pay Rs 11 lakh to Ramachandran and Rs 3.5 lakh to Agrawal as token remuneration for their assistance to the court. The payments were to be made within two months.
However, in an application filed today, the two lawyers politely turned down the money without citing reasons. They suggested that the sum be donated to the central or state legal services authority and used to help people who cannot afford to hire lawyers.
Sources said that Ramachandran and Agrawal felt they were serving the institution of justice itself and should not accept fees for carrying out what they saw as their highest professional duty.
Gopal Subramanian, hired by the Maharashtra government to fight the prosecution case against Kasab, too accepted just a token fee of Re 1 from the state. At the court, Subramanian had stressed the importance of assigning lawyers to Kasab in keeping with the Constitution’s ideals.
In its judgment, the top court had lauded both sides for presenting their case with the restraint and solemnity it deserved.
Ramachandran had argued that Kasab’s actions should be seen in isolation as an individual act of terror, unconnected with the actions of the nine other Pakistani gunmen during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Therefore, he argued, Kasab could only be convicted of murder and not of waging war against the Indian state, which was more likely to bring the death penalty. But the court rejected his arguments.
Ramachandran also tried to paint a sympathetic picture of an impoverished youth brainwashed by jihadi propaganda. He spoke movingly of Kasab’s poverty, his fight with his father, his move to a bigger city to improve his lot, his love for Bollywood movies, and the indoctrination he received at a Lashkar-e-Toiba training centre which made him feel important for the first time. But the court rejected all his arguments.
Immediately after the attacks, Kasab had shunned the Indian offer of legal help and written to the Pakistani high commission seeking legal representation. But with no offer of help coming from the Pakistani side, the trial court had assigned him Indian lawyers.
Several of Kasab’s lawyers, however, pulled out midway during the trial — either because of threats or because of court reprimands for delaying the case’s progress.