The special sessions court trying the Mumbai terror attacks case on Tuesday proposed March 9 as the date for starting the final arguments. Judge M.L. Tahaliyani, however, said the date would be officially declared on Wednesday.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam is slated to open his argument, followed by Defence Lawyer K.P. Pawar for Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, and lawyers for the other two accused — Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed.
Khalid Azmi, the brother of Ansari’s lawyer Shahid Azmi — who was murdered earlier this month — has been appointed to represent the accused. R.B. Mokashi would be the senior counsel arguing Ansari’s case.
Expressing concern over his security, Mr. Azmi requested the court to ban the media from publishing his name. However, the court said there was no law restricting the media from publishing a lawyer’s name.
Mr. Tahaliyani urged the young lawyer to shun his fear. “If lawyers are afraid how will the society survive?” he said.
Mr. Azmi has not yet asked for protection. However, Rakesh Maria, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime), told journalists that the advocate would be given protection.
The court on Tuesday rejected Ejaz Naqvi’s application seeking to make National Investigation Agency (NIA) chief S.C. Sinha, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son Rahul Bhatt, Moksha gym trainer Vilas Varak, and Director-General of Police, Gujarat, S.S. Khandwawala, defence witnesses.
Mr. Tahaliyani cited a lack of clarity in the evidence Mr. Naqvi wished to bring on record as the grounds for rejecting the application.
“The whole application is based on newspaper reports. When Rahul Bhatt and Vilas Varak met David Headley, they had no knowledge of his background. As far as the NIA chief is concerned, I am told a case has been registered by the NIA. As such, his evidence is also irrelevant. Similarly, the statement of the DGP, Gujarat, will not help accused no. 3 [Sabahuddin] negate the prosecutions case. It is precisely for these reasons that accused no. 3 has not stated what he wants to bring on record. Unless this is cleared, the appearance of witnesses will be of no use; it will be a waste of time,” the court said.
Mr. Tahaliyani, who had taken strong objection to a headline in a national newspaper, did not press the matter on Tuesday after the paper carried a clarification.