NEW DELHI: Believing in the basic premise of justice and fairplay that every accused is entitled to the best defense, a Delhi lawyer says he is willing to fight for Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive in the Mumbai attack.
M. Shanwar Khan, who has successfully defended six people accused in terror-related cases, believes it is for the courts to decide whether a person is a terrorist or not. "I believe in strengthening our legal system, so there is nothing wrong in defending Kasab. The court has to decide whether he is a terrorist or not, and till then he has a right to request for legal assistance," said Khan.
"I have defended 20 people accused of being terrorists and have been successful in getting six of them acquitted. The rest of the cases are pending in various courts of Delhi," Khan said, adding that Section 202 and 203 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of India says that an accused in India is entitled to the right to defense.
"If people like Dara Singh (convicted for the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines), Lt Col Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya (accused in Sep 29 Malegaon blast) and Nalini (serving life imprisonment for involvement in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination) can all be given legal aid, then why not Kasab?" he asked.
Khan started his practice nine years ago along with his father M Khan and says he has learnt a lot from him. "People often misunderstand my father, but I know him as one of the finest lawyers and a good human being. He often fought cases without charging anything. He believed in the legal process and didn't discriminate between cases," said Khan of his late father.
His list of clients includes those accused of planting improvised explosive devices near the Border Security Force (BSF) headquarters and Sena Bhavan in the capital in 2002.
On what he feels about terrorism, Khan said: "I am also hurt when terrorists kill innocent people as they did in Delhi and Mumbai. Anyone who commits such acts of terrorism against our country must be given the harshest punishment."