Two lawyers who defended Ajmal Kasab in the 2008 Mumbai attack case on the directions of the Bombay High Court are yet, to get their legal fees from the Maharashtra government.
While the state government says they have not submitted any bills, the lawyers say that state prosecutors are not supposed to.
Lawyers — Amin Solkar and Farhana Shah — were tasked with defending Kasab, hanged to death on November 21, 2012, for killing over 166 people in Mumbai, by the Maharashtra State Legal Services Department after they were nominated by then acting Chief Justice of Bombay High Court J N Patel.
A notification about their appointment was issued on June 8, 2010 after Kasab had expressed his desire to contest the verdict of the trial court sentencing him to death in the Bombay High Court.
As per the notification, Mr Solkar was to receive remuneration equivalent to what is sanctioned for a public prosecutor, who conducts a death confirmation appeal, and Ms Shah was to receive fees on par with an assistant prosecutor.
Keeping in tradition, the law allows for appointment of a lawyer from the legal services department if accused is unable to do so.
Mr Solkar and Ms Shah had argued for Kasab in the Bombay High Court against his death sentence almost on a day-to-day basis for nearly nine months before it confirmed the death sentence on the lone gunman, who sprayed bullets barbarically on November 26, 2008.
Kasab’s conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court a year later and he was hanged to death in 2012 at Yerwada prison in Pune.
When contacted by PTI, both Mr Solkar and Ms Shah said they are yet to receive their fees.
Both lawyers said they had given the case priority as the High Court was hearing it on a day-to-day basis from 11am to 5pm.
“I do not know why the state government has not made any efforts to pay us our fees. It has been seven years since the judgment was delivered by the high court. The Supreme Court confirmed the death penalty and Kasab is also dead. But we are still waiting (for the fees),” Mr Solkar told PTI.
He said he was contemplating legal action to get his dues cleared from the state government.
“We are only asking for what is legally due to us. The law says every accused should get a fair trial. To ensure this, we were appointed to defend Kasab… then why this delay in paying us our fees,” Mr Solkar said.
Ms Shah says she has given up hopes that she will get her remuneration for appearing in the case.
While the exact amount per hearing was not known, sources in the know put the figure somewhere between Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,000 per day.
An official from the state government’s law and judiciary department said the government would pay the fees only after the two lawyers submit their bills.
To this, both Mr Solkar and Ms Shah said the need to submit bills does not arise at all as they were appointed by the high court and a notification to this effect was issued by the government.