The Bombay High Court saw two senior criminal lawyers locking horns on Thursday with the defence lawyer for Himayat Baig, the lone convict in the German Bakery blast case, protesting against a comment made by the public prosecutor.
Presenting Baig’s appeal against his death sentence, defence lawyer Mehmood Pracha made arguments about the seizure of RDX, for the second day in a row. At one point, Public Prosecutor Raja Thakre said, “He’s the best person to know all these materials.” Pracha immediately registered his protest and stated that he was hurt by the words, and the two lawyers were soon at loggerheads, even as Justice N H Patil and Justice S B Shukre tried to intervene.
It was a little after noon in Court Room Number 54. Pracha had just contended that there were no specifications regarding the quantity of RDX found and said microscopic quantities of the substance could be found on his skin or on anyone’s skin. Thakre then said: “He’s the best person to know all these materials.” Pracha repeated the prosecutor’s comment and said, “I have had immense respect for him but he should not have said this. He has crossed the line. The statement was unnecessary.”
Pracha went on to add that he had become “an expert on RDX” only after studying the matter extensively for the case.
The judges, quick to intervene, said the senior lawyers had been arguing in a “healthy and professional manner” Justice Patil said, “There were two senior lawyers earlier this morning before you two, who were also arguing loudly before us. But you two are more professional in the way you argue the matter. It is very healthy.”
Thakre later extended an apology to Pracha saying he was sorry if he had hurt him and that he had meant the comment “in a lighter tone”. Pracha, however, said he was forced to react to the comment. “You (Thakre) don’t accuse me of being hand in glove with my client, as I have got threats from your clients and their underworld connections in Australia,” Pracha said. Justice Shukre intervened, saying Pracha “should not take the matter to heart”.
Meanwhile, Baig’s defence lawyer, continuing his argument that there were discrepancies in the investigation and reports pertaining to explosive material seized from Baig’s Beed residence, argued that the samples sent to the Beed collector to book the accused under the Explosives Act was 1,200 grams in powder, and not “five pieces of black solid mass” as per the police’s investigation reports. “Documents show that the collector received 1,200 grams of explosive powder from the residence of the accused, but this is not the same material shown recovered by the police as it elsewhere stated that five pieces of black solid mass of explosives are found,” Pracha said. He also contended that there were discrepancies in witness statements about the explosive substance found at Baig’s residence. “While one witness from the Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad calls the seized substance a black coloured explosive material, as sticky, another witness and the police call it just solid black mass found in plastic bags. No one knows where that powder is which the collector has noted,” Pracha said. The next hearing is on November 21.