Mumbai, Sep 16: In 2006 when in his characteristic style Raj Thackeray threatened lawyers for taking up cases of the 7/11 blasts accused, he had to tender an unconditional apology after a contempt of court case was filed against him.
- MNS posters on court premises exhort lawyers against taking up cases of blasts accused
Two years later the head of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has learnt the intricacies of law well, but his agenda remains the same. Following the blasts in Delhi on Saturday, MNS put up posters in the premises of Vikhroli metropolitan court against lawyers taking up cases of blasts accused. However the tone is remarkably different. Instead of the characteristic abrasiveness the tenor is more emotional.
Next to a picture of a weeping child sitting beside a body is the following text:
Vakil saab, hume garv hai aap is desh ke naagrik ho jo bomb kand aaropi ke liye ladte ho, lekin yeh to bataao hamare parivaar ka kya dosh tha. Jo bomb kand mein maare gaye humko insaaf kaun dega? Hamara parivaar hume lauta do. (We are proud that you are citizens of this country and that you take up cases of blasts accused but please tell us what is our fault, why did we have to lose our families. Who will give justice to us and can you reunite us with our families).
The poster goes on to say: "Bomb kand mein mare gaye begunaah vyakti ke shav par khade rah kar apna sthal oonch na karo (Do not enhance your status at the cost of a blasts victim).
Chintu Shaikh the MNS joint secretary who put up the poster says, "Blasts have killed several innocents and orphaned many more. How on earth can anyone defend the accused in such incidents?"
Shaikh's sister Shaheen who is a lawyer herself says she is torn between her profession and her own feeling on the issue. "As advocates we must not flinch from taking up cases but my feelings on the issue are similar to my brother. He is right when he says advocates should not be taking up cases of those accused on terror charges."
"MNS is entitled to put up such posters but lawyers don't have any choice. They have the right to defend the accused and he may be a terror suspect but then you cannot say for sure until he is found guilty," said senior lawyer Niteen Pradhan who had earlier taken up the case of several blasts accused but subsequently put down the brief. "Even late Anand Dighe was once booked under the provisions of TADA, does that mean that he was a terrorist? Every person has a right to be defended, even the alleged terrorists," he added
Fijji Fredrick, a practising lawyer in High Court, who was attending the Vikhroli court for an ongoing case said he had seen the posters pasted outside the court premises. "This is totally wrong on the part of a political party. As lawyers we are duty bound to take any brief that comes to us.
The government is there to take care of victims but no one can deny the right of a lawyer to defend an accused." While senior lawyer Mihir Desai defended the poster saying it represented the MNS's "freedom of speech."