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CURRENT AFFAIRS   Cover Story
‘Afzal was very poorly defended’

Former Union minister Ram Jethmalani speaks to Mihir Srivastava on the Parliament Attack case

Ram Jethmalani
 
The President has the power to disagree with the Supreme Court on facts and in law
Afzal’s confession, the backbone of the prosecution story of who attacked Parliament, has been set aside.

The court has said that Afzal’s confession is not admissible. It was not recorded under the proper guidelines of POTA. Otherwise also, a confession given to the police is irrelevant and can’t be admitted.

This confession was used to bring the involvement of the Lashkar and Jaish into the picture.

The confession only binds the maker of the confession. It does not bind anybody else. Let me say, if I have committed this offence with you, it does not affect you.

Now the whole judicial process is over, what do we know about the Parliament attack, who did it?

We know that five men who attacked Parliament were killed. They were suicide bombers trained to attack Parliament.

Since there is no direct evidence, the Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence mentioning the collective conscience of the society…

They have found them guilty on the basis of evidence on record. Having found him guilty, the question of a sentence arose. They sentenced him on collective conscience… It is assumed that their conscience reflects the conscience of society. It is another way of saying that the offence is so monstrous that people will be happy (with capital punishment).

There are a lot of loose ends in the investigations.

The police case was that the information about where the car was purchased from etc was given by Geelani. They have tried to implicate Geelani, how can they turn around and use the same evidence against Afzal. If the police have already received information from some other source, you cannot say that the disclosure came from Afzal. They used it against any one they thought convenient.

LK Advani is saying that if the hanging is delayed we will appear like a soft State.

A State that does not obey its own rule of law does not follow its own constitutional obligations; that makes it a soft State.

Afzal did not get legal support..

The man was very poorly defended, there is no doubt. My concern is that the Indian bar did not perform its obligation. When a man is facing the death sentence, the request of the man should be complied with. He asked for four lawyers, the judge asked two, the remaining two he didn’t even ask. Then a lawyer was more or less thrust upon him. Amicus is the friend of the court; amicus and being a defence advocate for an accused are inconsistent things.

The mercy petition is with the President and public opinion is divided.

It’s a misnomer to call it a mercy petition. It leads to total misunderstanding of the constitutional power. The constitutional power is that the President has the power to disagree with the Supreme Court both with its findings of fact and law.

The police used the media to cause prejudice in the minds of the people in this case.

To cause prejudice in the minds of the public against the man who is standing trail is the worst kind of contempt.

Oct 28 , 2006
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Guilty of an unsolved crime?
The Supreme Court acknowledges that Mohammed Afzal Guru is not a terrorist and that they have no direct evidence against him. Is he on death row on the basis of a shoddy probe? Mihir Srivastava looks at critical questions still unanswered
How did the police get to Geelani?
Police say they got to know of Geelani’s role on Dec 17. What made them pick him up two days earlier? By Mihir Srivastava
‘Afzal was very poorly defended’
Former Union minister Ram Jethmalani speaks to Mihir Srivastava on the Parliament Attack case

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