Lawyers at Kalyan Court in Maharashtra have refused to appear for Rajesh Wamane, an auto-rickshaw driver accused of raping a four-year-old KG student. The decision comes after they received a letter from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Congress leaders, requesting them not to represent the accused.
THE ALLEGED act committed by the auto-rickshaw driver is certainly condemnable but legal experts have raised fingers on the decision of lawyers on the ground that everyone reserves a right to receive a fair trial. “This (not providing a lawyer to the accused) is wrong. Everyone has the right to defend himself in the court. It is the duty of the court to provide the accused with a lawyer,” said Nitin Ahlawat, secretary of the Delhi
The decision of the lawyers also sounds strange given the fact that they can't deny an accused the right to fair trial. Such incidents have happened in the past as well when lawyers decided not to represent accused. In the infamous Jammu
and Kashmir sex scandal that involved politicians, bureaucrats and top police officials, the local bar association had also decided not to represent the accused.
One can't forget the case of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru who was denied a lawyer in the trial court where most of the cross examining of witnesses takes place. The trial has been castigated by many human rights activists, lawyers and judges, who have termed the case as 'a miscarriage of justice'.
“A person should receive free trial and if he fails to get a lawyer, the court is bound to provide one. Also, if Ajmal Kasab can get a lawyer, why not this rapist?” asked Imran Ali, who is practising as an advocate at the Supreme Court.
Given the past record of using violence and intimidation for political gains, one can't rule out the fear of MNS among the lawyers' community. “Political interference should not happen. Politicians should not interfere in judicial matters, as the judiciary is an independent body,” said Ali. When asked whether fear might have put away lawyers, Ali said: " This shouldn't happen but most of these so called nationalists do not even uphold the constitutional law.”