The latest issue to irk the media, and everyone else it seems, is how Ram Jethmalani has taken up the case of Manu Sharma, the accused in the Jessica Lall case. Here’s one such editorial from Barkha Dutt if you’re interested.
I don’t know why everyone’s getting worked up about this. The accused needs a lawyer. He’s got the money and he’s picked up one of the better ones. Now, if the case is as open and shut as the media would have us believe, there should be no problem in getting a conviction.
According to the media, the accused is guilty in the court of media justice. So, why is there such an uproar? Moral grounds? Insert lawyer joke here.
Could it be because there is now a fear that Manu Sharma could actually be acquitted by Jethmalani? Are there holes in the case that Jethmalani can use to acquit his client? Or legal loopholes? I don’t know but it seems like that would cause people to be upset.
While you’re chewing on that, here are excerpts (cut and paste) of an interview that Jethmalani did with Sagarika Ghose (Gosh, according to the story):
Sagarika Gosh: But as a criminal lawyer, don’t you believe there is a lakshman rekha that even all criminal lawyers have to work under?
Ram Jethmalani: I am sorry. Please don’t talk of this bull shit to me. I know what my lakshman rekha’s are. I have read my rules of the conduct of a lawyer. It will be the saddest day when a lawyer refuses to stand between the state and the final verdict.
Sagarika Gosh: What is the Press doing?
Ram Jethmalani: You are carrying on sedulous campaign of creating prejudice against a man who is standing his trial and who has already been acquitted in one court.
Sagarika Gosh: There are a few tapes that have been done by various investigative agencies that show witnesses are all falsifying their accounts.
Ram Jethmalani: Those tapes are not worth the paper they are written. Police can manufacture any confessions. That is why our law is that any confessions recorded and kept by the police are not to be looked at. You are trying to look at inadmissible material causing prejudice in the judicial mind when the judges have no right to look at that evidence.
From the interview, it seems like Jethmalani is pissed with the trial-by-media that this case has become.
Maybe he took the case because of the media coverage; maybe not. If the media is fine with the way it has covered the case, then it should be fine with Jethmalani taking the case.
And, you have to ask why the media pestering the lawyers of Abu Salem or many other lawyers who’ve taken up high profile cases in the past.
I wonder why.
Updated on Nov 9 2006:
Just realized that this piece from The Hoot is related to my post, so go read if you’re interested.