Defence lawyers appearing in the Shakti Mills gangrape case of 23-year-old photo journalist left the court premises abruptly after unanimously deciding to not cooperate with the court. They had sought time to argue on the aspect of quantum of punishment, and informed the court that senior counsel Yug Choudhary was willing to appear for the accused.
The court, however, rejected their application and said no more time could be granted to the defence lawyers. “Making applications over applications at such a crucial time of the trial makes it clear that the defence is resorting to delay tactics,” Sessions court judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi said while rejecting their application. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam also took objection to their application and said the lawyers were just pushing their luck.
“It is not some simple crime. Here are three persons, who are very young and it is the matter of their life. The court should grant enough time to the defence lawyers to bring in a senior lawyer,” argued defence lawyer Prakash Salsingekar. Upset with the behavior, the court continued with its proceedings. When asked if they would want to make any submission, all the defence lawyer answered in negative. Recording their conduct, the court said it would continue with the judgment, regardless. “The lawyers should understand that their non-cooperation has a serious bearing over their clients’ lives,” she observed.
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Later, when the court tried to proceed with the judgment, the advocates moved an application seeking withdrawal from the case. “We have been seeking time in the best interest of the court and the case. If the court is not ready to do justice, we do not want to appear in the case,” said defence lawyer Moin Khan. The judge came down heavily on the lawyers, and said their tactics were only harming their clients.
The lawyers have now decided to approach the Bombay High Court against the court’s order. Nikam said the behavior shown by the defence lawyers was highly unprofessional and suggested to the court that it should be informed to the Bar Council of India. “Derailing trial is an ugly tactic and the defence lawyers today crossed every limits,” Nikam argued.
Soon after the court passed the judgment, families of the convicts broke down. Chand Bibi, mother of Mohammad Qasim Shaikh, slapped the co-convict Salim Ansari, calling him a “bad infleunce” on her son. Following this, a fight ensued between Shaikh and Ansari’s families. The police constables present at the court had to intervene and disperse the agitated families.