Four months after S G Abbas Kazmi was removed by the 26/11 special court to defend Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the aggrieved lawyer on Wednesday moved the Bombay high court, seeking contempt action against trial Judge M L Tahaliyani for abruptly sacking him.
The filing of the petition at this belated stage has generated keen interest in legal circles, as the judgment in the 26/11 case against Kasab is expected to be delivered on May 3.
Kazmi said the judge had acted arbitrarily and his action had no legal foundation, because he was removed for merely objecting to the prosecution's move to file the affidavits of 232 witnesses of formal character, instead of examining them orally in the court.
Kazmi, who had been appointed by the court to defend Kasab at the beginning of the trial, said in the petition, "A lawyer who appears in a court is an officer of the court and the judge who tries a case cannot humiliate him."
The lawyer said he had agreed to appear in the case as a professional after considering it a public duty and not because Ajmal Kasab was his private client. Kazmi said the court had also called him a 'liar' for stating that he was not aware about prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam's contention at the start of the trial, that he (Nikam) would file affidavits of witnesses of formal character instead of examining them personally in the court.
Kazmi contended that the trial court had no power to remove a defence lawyer and humiliate him in public.
"Denigrating a member of the Bar by misusing the authority as a Judge lowers the entire legal system and is subversive of the dignity and majesty of law," he said.
Kazmi submitted that the high court had the powers to take suo moto cognizance of the contempt action against the trial Judge. He said Judge Tahaliyani had committed contempt of his own court by removing him on flimsy grounds.
He said as the Maharashtra government had been made a respondent in the petition, he had made a written request to the advocate general to grant consent to file contempt action, but had received no response. However, the high court can direct the advocate general to give his consent, Kazmi said.