Volume - 2 : Issue - 1

Published : Jan. - Mar. 2003

Group : Think About It

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“Saving An Innocent Life Is More Important Than

My Friendship With Thackeray”  –  RAM JETHMALANI

By Mahesh Vaswani

The world’s most brilliant and daredevil lawyer has once again got embroiled in a controversy that seems to be snowballing every passing day. Ignoring the Shiv Sena supremo’s demand for his resignation, Ram Bulchand Jethmalani, the former Law minister of India says “in my profession saving the life of an innocent is more important than my friendship with Bal Thackeray.”  Referring to the Shiv Sena’s demonstration outside his Mumbai office he said that the culture of gundagiri (violence) is not good for Bal Thackeray, his Shiv Sena and even the image of our country.

In an informal talk with SINDHISHAAN, Mr. Jethmalani said that according to the Advocates’ Act an accused or a convict is free to choose a lawyer of his choice for defending him in the court, but if he is unable to get the lawyer of his choice and gets convicted then the trial is said to be an unfair one. “I am committed to my profession and cannot be dictated by Shiv Sena or the BJP. When I got elected to the Rajya Sabha as an independent, those who voted for me very well knew of this and Mr. Bal Thackeray is a misguided friend”, says the lawman. He said “it is high time Mr. Thackeray made his Shiv Sainiks believe in the rule of law and avoid the culture of violence. Our country is globally acclaimed for the rule of law and a transparent democracy, which will get adversely affected with such behaviour of the Sena”, he added.

Refuting the Sena claims that they had come only to submit a memorandum at his Mumbai office, Mr. Jethmalani said they could have pushed it inside the office or atleast produced before the mediapersons and photographers.  Mr. Jethmalani also said that Mr. Thackeray was trying to make an unnecessary issue of this and that he would not be cowed down. Elaborating further he said that having studied the papers of the lecturer Mr. S.A.R Geelani he was satisfied that he could save the person’s life.  Mr. Geelani who was awarded the death penalty on 18th December last year for his involvement in the attack on the Indian Parliament seemed innocent Mr. Jethmalani added. He also said “ If blood of an innocent is allowed to flow then it gives birth to terrorism.  This would also degrade our image in the international community.  I have been requested by Geelani’s counsel and his family to defend his case in the superior court and as an advocate it is my duty to do so”.

Mr. Jethmalani was confident that Bal Thackeray would soon change his opinion on this issue and after all we are friends (refers to Bal Thackeray) . Asked if he would ever again accept the brief of Bal Thackeray if approached for legal help, he quipped “I surely will !”