AP Singh
AP Singh
Litigation News

Advocate AP Singh discharged as convict Pawan Counsel, Delhi Court asks Pawan to choose from DSLSA empanelled advocates

Counsel for the Nirbhaya Case convict discharged from his duties after he intimated the Court regarding the same.

Aditi Singh

Following intimation by Advocate AP Singh that he was not representing convict Pawan in the Nirbhaya case anymore, the Court of Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana today granted an opportunity to Pawan choose a counsel of his choice from the list of empanelled advocates with the Delhi State Legal Services Authority.

Judge Rana said.

"Let justice be done, even though heaven falls. This Court is of the opinion that any condemned convict is entitled for legal aid till his last breath. Granting the prayer made in the application without hearing counsel for convict would render further proceedings ornamental and superfluous.."
Judge Dharmender Rana

In view of the concerns of delay being caused due to the absence of legal representation for Pawan, the Court directed that the list of empanelled Advocates with DSLSA be provided to the father/pairokar of Pawan as well as the Tihar Jail Superintendent to expedite the process.

The order was passed by the Court while hearing applications by the Tihar Jail Superintendent and Nirbhaya's parents, seeking a date for execution of the death warrant issued against the four convicts.

At the outset, Special Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmed informed the Court that Advocate AP Singh had refused to accept notice on behalf of convict Pawan and was no longer his counsel.

Pawan's father sought time from the Court to retain a private counsel for Pawan.

The Prosecutor conceded that the right to legal representation was a right of the convict. He nonetheless added that the absence of representation, in the present instance, did not pose any embargo on fixing a date of the execution as the counsel could be heard later.

Ahmed further informed the Court that convict Vinay had also preferred a petition against the rejection of his mercy plea by the President.

Since the same was pending before the Registry and not the Supreme Court, it would not also not amount to pendency of any legal proceedings to defer the issuance of date for execution, it was argued.

Counsel for Nirbhaya's parents, Adv Jitendra Jha added that in terms of the Delhi High Court's order passed in Centre's plea in the matter, there was no embargo on execution.

Adv Seema Kushwaha, who represents the Nirbhaya's parents, added that Adv Singh's discharge as Pawan's counsel was another tactic by the convicts to further delay the execution of sentence.

It was added by the counsel for Nirbhaya's parents that after the deadline of seven days, as given by the High Court was over, convict could not avail any legal remedy.

In response, the Judge said,

"Even till his last breath he his entitled to audi altrem partem.."
Judge Dharmender Rana

The Amicus Curiae in the matter, Adv Vrinda Grover stated that if no legal proceeding was pending, the Court could fix a date for execution. She added that in spite of the High Court direction, there was no law which could prohibited the convicts from preferring any remedy; however, in the instant case, the court concerned may reject it on that ground, she said.

Therefore, legal aid must be provided to convict Pawan, she submitted.

After hearing the parties, the Court deemed it appropriate to defer further hearing in the application to allow Pawan to engage a counsel of his choice from the list of DSLSA empanelled advocates.

The Court also directed AP Singh to handover the record of Pawan's case to the Court.

The matter would be heard next on February 13.

On January 31, the Court had stayed the execution of Nirbhaya convicts sine die.

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