Due process: SC asks top lawyer to defend Kasab
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Sending a strong signal of the supremacy of due process, the Supreme Court has approached senior advocate Raju Ramchandran to defend Ajmal Kasab in his death row appeal as amicus curiae of the court.
Kasab is the lone terrorist arrested for the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people. His application for stay of execution of the death sentence is expected to come up in the apex court any time now.
The Bombay High Court had upheld the trial court's award of death sentence in February.
Ramachandran, when contacted, confirmed the development.
The defence of accused in terror cases has been fraught with emotion and politics with groups of lawyers, most recently in UP and Maharashtra, protesting against any defence being provided to defendants.
Incidentally, several lawyers refused to defend Kasab. A lawyer of a co-accused of Kasab (Fahim Ansari), Shahid Azmi, was killed in February last year. It was last June that two counsel, Amin Solkar and Farhana Shah, were appointed to defend Kasab in the Bombay High Court.
Ramachandran was named amicus curiae for the Supreme Court in the Gujarat riots cases to help the court with the SIT appointed by it, after Prashant Bhushan stepped down from the job in October 2010 when the Gujarat government sought Bhushan's recusal.
He has been additional solicitor-general of India from 2002-04, was counsel for the Justice Sawant committee under the Judges Inquiry Act 1968, which enquired into charges against Justice V Ramaswami (the first judge to face impeachment proceedings, though the impeachment could not go through). He has also been counsel for the Justice R S Pathak inquiry committee which enquired into matters arising from the Volcker report.
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