Though there is no clarity yet on who will represent Ajmal Amir Kasab,21,the lone terrorist captured alive after the Mumbai terror attacks,during the trial,the lawyers fee is fixed. The state government will pay Rs 900 to the lawyer of the state legal aid panel who will be appointed to defend Kasab.
The legal aid panel has a fixed fee for a lawyer taking up a legal aid brief,irrespective of how long the trial continues. This fee is paid to the lawyer after the disposal of the case.
At present,no lawyer is representing Kasab,who is in the custody of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch,in the remand stage. Soon he will be shifted to judicial custody and lodged in the Arthur Road Jail and as per law,every accused has a right to be defended.
If he cannot afford a lawyer of his choice,it is mandatory for the state to appoint a lawyer for the accused at its own cost from the legal aid panel. In Kasabs case,the Sessions Court is likely to direct the Legal Aid Services Authority to provide a lawyer as not many are willing to appear for him.
Defence lawyer Rajendra Javanjal,who has appeared for many legal aid cases,said: The maximum amount of fees is Rs 900 and it is paid only after the final disposal of the case,which can happen within six hearings or can extend for years. The proceedings to receive the fees are also tedious and it takes over a month.
According to the rules,cases are allotted on the basis of seniority of lawyers in the profession. Junior lawyers are not given cases relating to serious offences of murder and other grave offences. At any given time,there are around 30 lawyers on the panel who are given cases on rotation,availability and the lawyers acceptance. The lawyer has to maintain his own attendance in the cases in courts. At the end of the disposal of the case,he has to fill in a form with the dates on which he has attended. This will be verified by the registrar by calling for the court records and then the voucher for encashment is sent to the State Law and Judiciary Department.
Sources said there is a shortage of lawyers on the legal aid panel and most of them are discouraged by the meagre remuneration.