There are some in our media who are better off if they don’t open their mouths about legal issues. Not because they shouldn’t speak but because they try to influence and mislead public opinion through utterances that primarily stem from ignorance of the law and legal practice. This is especially so when they are peddling half-truths. To call them “Legal-Bimbos” wouldn’t be unfair. Take a look at these tweets:
In the first, the legal luminary from CNN-IBN, Pallavi Ghosh, equates Arun Jaitley’s defence of PJ Kurien to the case of Sushil Shinde. The context being, BJP announced they will boycott Shinde because of his “Hindu terror” comments and the SC reopening an old rape case from Kerala in which the current RS Deputy Chairman was an accused. Arun Jaitley had then defended Kurien in the case. The other legal expert, Sunetra Chaudhary from NDTV, even suggests Jaitley is still defending Kurien in the SC. Barkha Dutt points out to Sunetra that Jaitley had given up legal practice after becoming the LOP in the RS. Jaitley had mentioned this to her or someone else when he was interviewed by NDTV in an issue relating to Nitin Gadkari. And though Barkha rightly points out a fact, she is not pointing out the right fact. The right fact is that Arun Jaitley, if he hadn’t surrendered his license, would still be entitled to and justified in defending Kurien. Merely because Arun Jaitley defended Kurien or any person from some other political party is not reason enough to cast aspersions on his character.
The moronic answer that Sunetra provides is that she wondered if Tweeple knew. Well, if she hasn’t yet learnt that Tweeple are not bimbos like her, then she’s worse than I actually thought. Sure, there may be some stray legal-bimbos on Twitter too. Maybe those are the ones who follow Sunetra and she is trying to educate them. Such idiots maintain that Jaitley shouldn’t defend “alleged” rapists as a lawyer in courts. So much for expertise!
In the recent Delhi Gangrape incident there was a shocking announcement from the Lawyers Association at Saket in Delhi. The association’s head appealed to lawyers not to defend the accused. Individual choices are fine but asking all lawyers not to defend some accused is comically outrageous. This head lawyer is worthy of having his license stripped. This action reflects lack of respect for the law under which the govt and our judiciary system are obligated to provide defence for an accused. It mocks democracy itself. If the govt and lawyers fail in this obligation they are failing our justice system and causing serious damage to legal processes.
Not so long ago, the lawyers initially engaged for the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab were assaulted and beaten up. These goons and those who cheered them deserve to be condemned and punished. How does all this stupidity start? Exactly the way Pallavi and Sunetra start it! The idiotic anchors and media reporters believe the media is so powerful that once they pronounce someone guilty then there is no need for a court to try a case. They believe associating lawyers with a criminally-accused makes them equally guilty of the crime. Such morons abound in resplendent glory on Twitter as well. The public then turns against the lawyers as if they were evil and sometimes thrashes them. Let’s go back a few years and you can watch moronery of the most extreme kind from none other than a legal-bimbo who shouldn’t be talking law at all. Yeah, who else but Sagarika Ghose? This is how she questioned Ram Jethmalani in 2006 in the Manu Sharma case (Appeal in SC for killing Jessica Lal). You can watch it on Youtube but here are her opening questions which are shocking:
Sagarika Ghose: In defending Manu Sharma, are you in some sense defending or attempting to defend the indefensible?... But sir, aren’t you worried that you are going against the tide of public opinion?... But the Press is only reflecting public opinion... Here is someone who in the eyes of the public is seen as someone who has committed a heinous crime.
So you see, according to the media, cases should be decided based on “public opinion” that they generate and the media and public in general have the right to declare someone “indefensible”. These are seriously dangerous messages that our media is putting out. RamJ rightly spanked Sagarika for her stupidity in that interview. RamJ has a record of defending the most notorious criminals from Billa-Ranga to Indira Gandhi’s killers and he is now hired to defend Rajiv Gandhi’s killers in TN to commute the death sentence. He is doing his job. It’s the media morons who are failing in theirs. By the stupid logic of media, should the doctors who treated Kasab’s injuries have refused to do so? Should doctors let the accused die because of media or public opinion? This is the reason the legal fraternity has great respect for RamJ while the media sees him as evil. All such questions come from media-comedians who even describe High Court judgements as ‘Panchayati judgements’. And her channel entrusts her with moderating discussions about rape laws or marital-rape laws. That’s the absurdity at CNN-IBN. Would you leave legal counselling to comedians?
‘The defense never rests’ is the title of a famous book by eminent American Criminal-Trial lawyer F. Lee Bailey (do read comments on the page I’ve linked). He has been involved in some of the most notorious cases and even in the OJ Simpson trial which has been called “Trial of the century”. In his book he describes how public thinks lawyers defending notorious accused are mavericks and face the wrath of public and media. That brings us to an important question. Do defence lawyers naturally believe their clients are “innocent”? Absolutely not! It’s the LAW that believes they are innocent till proven guilty. WE made that law! So what exactly do defence lawyers do in such cases? They do a lot more than just defend someone; they complement and validate our judiciary system. The courts are people’s courts. Remember, if an accused is not defended properly the court can very well declare it a mistrial and miscarriage of justice and even free the accused. Is that what our media’s legal-bimbos want? Ask them! Do they want rapists and murderers to go scot-free because no lawyer was willing or allowed to defend them? That is what a court may choose to do if no defence is afforded to the accused.
In the US, Miranda Rights are Rights which are read to a person immediately on arrest or before interrogation. It’s commonly called Miranda rights since the guy (Ernesto Miranda) who was arrested was released by the court because the law officers did not read him his legal rights. The standard Rights, with variants, to be read to a person about to be arrested in the US is: “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the state will provide you one”. If that legal right is not read to an arrestee then the court is likely to dismiss the case and seek a retrial. The US also has the Fifth Amendment which provides the Right for an accused to remain silent. The accused is not liable to prove he is guilty nor is his defence lawyer. It’s the job of the prosecution to prove him guilty. Not the defence lawyer, not the media and not public opinion. Public opinion matters in the ballot box not in a court of law. Public opinion issues and concerns can be raised through a PIL but they cannot be used by media to pronounce legal verdicts on anyone. The 2-minute-orgasm polls in the media cannot declare anyone guilty or indefensible.
Defence lawyers are not always fighting to prove clients “innocent”. Certainly not! In the case of David Headley the evidence was so damning that his defence plea-bargained. That’s what defence lawyers do. The defence also ensures that proper charges are framed and a proper trial is conducted. It is important that an accused is tried under proper clauses, charges, crimes and procedures. The defence lawyer ensures that. The defence lawyer also ensures that prosecution does not tar an accused with unrelated crimes or crimes the person has never committed. The defence lawyer’s job is to ensure no pressure or public opinion is brought to bear on the court proceedings. The defence lawyer ensures the Judge has no personal stake in the proceedings and asks for a different judge should he prove that. Defence lawyers ensure punishment is not disproportionate to the crime. Therefore, the media is doing a great disservice to the justice system, to you and to society at large when they question defence lawyers and paint them as “criminals” by association. The media’s Powder-Puff girls and morons who agree with their logic might want to learn some law before they make stupid pronouncements to mislead people.
If lawyers, as an association or group, decide to boycott an accused claiming he or she is a villain or guilty in the eyes of media or public opinion then these lawyers are guilty of failing to uphold the law and the Constitution they swore to protect. And those who verbally trash or physically thrash such defence lawyers are equally guilty of uncivilised behaviour and are misundersanders of democracy and justice. The prosecution acts for the people. That’s why they call such prosecution “State V xyz or People V xyz or Union V xyz’. Under criminal law, the crime is not just against an individual or group, it's a crime against the State. It’s also WE, as people, who have ordered, authorised and legislated that an accused must be allowed full defence. We pay the salary of the courts to make sure such defence is mandatory. Anyone in the media trashing legal defence of an accused is indirectly trashing the people.
The so called warriors of justice in the media overlook the fact that while they condemn many accused as guilty and ridicule defence lawyers as being equivalent to criminals they are the ones who celebrate the convicted criminals. They seem to have divine powers to pronounce anyone guilty but will promote and celebrate “convicted criminals” like Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt. Why? Because these guys mean money and Mota-maal for them! Our media doesn’t give a damn about justice or respect for law. Make no mistake about that. It’s the job of the prosecution to prove and establish beyond any reasonable doubt that a person is guilty and rest the case. The defence goes right up to the highest authority to seek justice or pardon (like Supreme Courts and Presidents). The defence never rests! It’s not supposed to.