Long wait for Kasab lawyers to get fee

Mumbai: It seems to be a long wait for the two lawyers of Mumbai terror attack`s lone surviving gunman Ajmal Kasab to get their legal fees.

Amin Solkar and Farhana 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. They were nominated by the High Court.

But the two claimed that the legal aid cell of Maharashtra Government was yet to clear their remuneration.

The High Court had given its verdict confirming the death penalty of the Pakistani national in February this year.

The Lashker-e-Taiba(LeT) terrorist has challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court.

After their nomination, Solkar and Shah were appointed by the Maharashtra State Legal Services department to take up Kasab`s defence in his appeal against the death penalty awarded to him by a trial court in the November 2008 terror attack. A notification for their appointment was issued on June eight, 2010.

According to the notification which was signed by the then secretary A K Sonawane, the two were to receive remuneration equivalent to what is sanctioned for an additional public prosecutor who conducts a death penalty confirmation 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 hearing.

If the accused fails to appoint a lawyer for himself, the court can nominate a lawyer from the legal services department.

The Bombay High Court began hearing Kasab`s appeal since June last year and confirmed the death penalty awarded to him in February this year.

Since the commencement of the appeal hearing, both Amin and Farhana have been appearing before the High Court on a daily basis for arguments.

"We had given this case priority as the high court was hearing it daily from 11 am to 5 pm. According to the letter issued by the government, we would be paid as soon as the judgment was delivered,? Farhana told PTI.

V L Achiliya, secretary of Maharashtra Law and Judiciary department, said the lawyers would receive their fees soon.

"The Maharashtra State Legal Services department will pay the two lawyers after they submit their bills," Achliya told PTI.

The statement of Achiliya surprised Farhana who said that they were in court all through. "How can they ask us to submit bills when the government appointed us following nomination from the High Court," she said.

"We have not yet got any intimation or letter from the government asking us to approach them seeking remuneration. It is as if we never appeared in the case," Solkar said.

Abbas Kazmi, a lawyer who had defended Kasab before trial judge M L Tahalayani, claims he has been paid by the government for his services. "My remuneration was given by the government soon after the completion of the trial," Kazmi said, adding he got his fees without having to submit any bills to the government.

Kasab is lodged at the Arthur Road prison since his arrest in November 2008.

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