“This is a court of law, young man, not a court of Justice”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr
“Nirbhaya case: Hangings deferred for third time”, read the headlines in a local newspaper. The legal system faced heavy criticism from the every corner of the society. Strictures was passed against Mr AP Singh, the counsel for the convicts by The Delhi High Court and the Bar Council issued notices over his conduct. But, Mr Singh was adamant to his view and busted a gut trying to delay the execution to the hilt.
Wasn’t Mr AP Singh just doing his Job?
As per The Bar Council of India rules, a lawyer cannot refuse to defend an accused on the grounds that general public believes the person to be guilty. It’s a lawyers constitutional obligation to avail any legal process that is available to an accused. Mr Singh faced pressure from all sections of the society including his relatives, who asked him not to defend the accused and say ‘Marne do na inko, aap kyun ladte ho?. He said he had to convince them for his actions.
But, did he went too far defending the convicts?
Mr AP Singh quoted Mahatma Gandhi and said that the death penalty is a form of violence and remarked that the accused must be given a chance to reform.
Normally, for a death sentence convict, the legal remedies exhaust after a review and a mercy petition. The death warrant was issued three times. The curative petitions before the Supreme Court, the mercy plea before the President and then the petition against the mercy plea, all were filed not together but on different occasions for the convicts to delay the execution and that is exactly what happened, the first death warrant being issued for 22 January, 2020 then for 01st Feb, 2020, 03rd March, 2020 and finally on 20th March, 2020 the convicts were executed.
Mr Singh has a history of defending cases such as that of Chinmayanand and Gurmeet Ram Rahim, both accused of rape.
Even, Mr Ram Jethmalani faced a lot of criticism for defending high profile cases such as Manu sharma, the convict in the Jessica Lal murder case, the Indira Gandhi assassins.
To conclude, it cannot be denied that the legal stunts by Mr AP Singh exposed legal loopholes available to be exploited by the accused. There may be a lot of criticism and hot water pouring on the defence lawyer AP Singh but after all it was his duty to defend his client the best possible way as it can be. It is the right of a counsel to explore every legal remedy available as per law. He did what a defence lawyer is ought to do- To Defend.