Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Justice delayed?

It's been said a thousand times before and I'm saying it again:
Someone shoot Arnab Goswami.
Though I've always had a death wish for him (remember how he declared war on India on behalf of Pakistan during the November terrorist attacks?) I completely lost my mind a few days ago while I was flipping channels during (another) rained out IPL game.
Apparently cashing in on the public outrage (?) that had erupted as soon as it became known that Qasab's new lawyer, Abbas Kazmi, made two applications before the special court - one, that he be given a period of four weeks to read the charge sheet and two, that Qasab be subjected to a medical test to determine his age - Times Now quickly assembled a cast of characters to voice their strong opinion against such "tactics" being adopted by the lawyer.
Arnab angrily pointed out how Qasab was now being given an ultra expensive lawyer from tax payer's money to a patient Majeed Memon.
"But surely there was no need to give him a extraordinary lawyer!" gasped Arnab, obviously referring to the fees (because it's OK for the State to pay extraordinary fees for a Special Public Prosecutor but not to a Defence Counsel)
"He's not extraordinary, just...ordinary" mumbled Memon, obviously not referring to just the fees.
Anyway, the other panelists included a screechy Doctor who saved a life during the Taj siege by conducting a makeshift operation on a security personnel who was shot in the stomach, which was an incredible feat for which she has received many laurels. How this makes her capable of commenting on legal processes I fail to understand. She seemed very disturbed that some factions of the media were referring to Qasab as a "cutie" and referred to Facebook to point out that the sentiment of the public, in particular, young Indians (10 and 13 year olds, she clarified) wanted to tie a time bomb to Qasab's genitals and put him back on the boat where he came from.
I know that Times Now is full of other such ridiculous nonsense (if any news channel wants to pay me to blog on each and every episode of Arnab's panel questioning, I will gladly do so) and that no one besides Goswami takes it seriously, as a legal practitioner who deals with the pressures of conducting criminal trials on a regular basis, I would like to offer my humble opinion.
The other day, I accompanied a new Client who was being served with a copy of the charge sheet for allegedly committing an offence under the Maharashtra Protection of Trees (Urban Areas) Act. The Judge asked me how long I would need before he would explain the charge and record the plea.
I asked for a month. And I'll tell you why. This is what I needed before I decided my strategy in the case:
1. Clear instructions from my Client as to what exactly happened
2. An inspection of the site of the alleged offence
3. Studying the act, which was a new one
4. A good reading of the chargesheet and the witness statements to determine if any offence was made out from a bare reading of the chargesheet, and if so, what offence(s)
And of course as I handle so many other matters I need time to study those matters in as much detail, and hence, I asked for a month, and the Judge gave me two. (Blame it on the backlog)
And I'm not a spastic lawyer. I consider myself to be thorough and I do my homework. Quality is the least I can offer my Clients, right?
My point is this: we're talking about a 10,000 page chargesheet and some 300 different charges (mostly capital crimes) under at least 10 statutes that I can think of. Mr. Kazmi has not spent his entire life waiting for this one case and I'm sure he has other matters to deal with. As I recall he was Amicus Curaie in the 1993 blasts as well. Of course he would apply for adjournments in other cases (and most judges would willingly allow this) but my point is why should his Clients languish in jail because their lawyer was appointed to represent Qasab?
Look, I work here. Don't make a farce out of my profession. If you want this to be a "fair trial" to set an example to the world and what not, then let the law takes its own course and give the lawyer a fair chance to at least flip through a 10,000 page chargesheet. If you want vigilante justice then you should have just accidentally let his prison cell open and let the mob claw him to a gory end.
The screechy Doctor asked why we couldn't just have a trial like Saddam Hussein's? What a great idea!
One month isn't going to kill anyone. Except Qasab, ultimately.
Or are we all just worried that our laws and judicial system are so screwed up that this Lawyer might just get Qasab off the hook?

1 comment:

The Lotus Stem said...

Totally agree with you.

First, kasab is not provided with a translated chargesheet, on the ground that it will take a lot of time, his lawyer will translate etc etc (which all are stupid reasons) and then they argue that even the lawyer should not get time to read the chargesheet! Arnab needs to be reminded that the same Constitution that gives him the freedom to say all the trash that he does also gives Kasab the right to a fair trial and to natural justice!