The special 26/11 trial court, on Monday, sacked Abbas Kazmi, the defence counsel for Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab [ Images ] for "non-cooperation," three days after it showed leniency and allowed him to continue accepting an unconditional apology for his controversial utterances.
Judge M L Tahaliyani ordered Kazmi's termination after he refused to consider the court's suggestion to pick out 71 formal witnesses out of the total 340, including the doctors who treated the victims, conducted the post-mortem, those who drew inquest panchnama, carried forensic evidences to labs and victims' family members who claimed the bodies.The court asked Kazmi to consider how many witnesses he would like to cross-examine from the first category of 71 witnesses, but he insisted on examining all 340, rejecting the court's suggestion.
"Kazmi is not cooperating with the court in the interest of justice. He is trying to drag the trial and is unnecessarily consuming the time of the court," the judge observed. "It appears that Kazmi has developed a feeling that he has become indispensable and without him the trial cannot go on. He has developed a feeling that the court is helpless without him," the judge said angrily, adding "this gives out a wrong signal to everyone and it is high time that either Kazmi withdraws from the case himself or the court terminates his appointment." The court is likely to consider the appointment of one more advocate in the place of Kazmi.
Judge M L Tahaliyani also directed Kazmi to hand over all the documents and chargesheet of the case to advocate K P Pawar, who is assisting him in the case. On November 27, Tahaliyani had decided against sacking Kazmi after he tendered apology for his remark during angry courtroom exchanges the day before that he did not care about affidavits of witnesses filed by the prosecution.
Kazmi was appointed as Kasab's defence lawyer by the court for the trial which began in March 2008. The judge had also withdrawn his observation that Kazmi was a liar. The observation had come the previous day after Kazmi denied that special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had stated in his opening address on May 8 that he would file affidavits of formal witnesses.
A controversy had erupted on November 26, the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks [ Images ], when prosecutor Nikam informed the Judge that he desired to file 340 affidavits of formal witnesses and that copies of 233 such documents had already been served on the defence lawyer. Nikam said he did not to personally call the witnesses to save the court's time.
When the judge asked Kazmi whether he wanted to cross examine any of these witnesses, Kazmi said that he would declare his strategy after Nikam filed these affidavits in the court. Nikam said he had informed the court in his opening address on May 8 that he would be filing such affidavits. However, Kazmi disputed Nikam's claim, saying he had not made such disclosure in his opening address, prompting the judge to say that he (Kazmi) was telling lies.
After the issue was resolved on November 27, copies of 340 affidavits were officially handed over to Kazmi and two other accused, Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed.
My personal opinion is that the trial may be set aside because of this. Judge cannot decide which witnesses the accused's lawyer wants to examine.