There is an article in Mint about one of the Mumbai terror attack gunmen – Kasab-
Should we conduct an SMS poll to decide whether we should hang (Mohammed Ajmal) Kasab?” city-based lawyer Trideep Pais asks rhetorically.
He was reacting to a Mumbai-based lawyer group passing a resolution that forbids members from representing the only surviving member of the terrorist group involved in the Mumbai attack on 26 November.
The Bombay Metropolitan Magistrate Court’s Bar Association (BMMCBA)—that passed the resolution—comprises 1,060 lawyers who practise in that city’s courts.
Pais’ argument is simple: Every criminal has the right to be represented in court. But lawyers such as Pais who represent alleged terrorist groups or terror suspects face social ostracism and political harassment.
This must change, they say.
And they are right.
Mob justice is an uncivilized, medieval practice, and the fact that it is still practiced in rural India does not mean that India’s cities and towns should do the same. Even if a man kills ten people in front of hundreds of others, unless he’s brought down then and there to end his killing spree, its the law courts that pronounce a verdict on him. This is what civilization is all about – taking away the right of the mob – an entity whose collective intelligence is at a level comparable to savages – to decide on the life or death of someone, and giving that right to cool headed people who make the decision after considering all the evidence concerning a particular case – even a case that is an ‘open-and-shut’ one.
The presumption of innocence myth needs to be maintained so that justice is seen to be done. Such fatwas – preventing lawyers from representing terrorists – are dangerous because its raises a serious question – where will you draw the line? Should people accused of rape be denied legal representation? What about murderers? The fact that the terror attack happened in the open changes nothing. A society that is willing to suspend the rule of law because of the inconveniences that accompany it does not deserve justice. If it wants justice, it should be willing to give it to others too – particularly those against whom public opinion stands. But since people hardly care about philosophy, its hardly surprising that they care even less about the philosophy of law – jurisprudence. Idiots.