‘Meeting of an accused person in the prison by a lawyer, would not mean that there was criminal conspiracy between them.’
While discharging a lawyer from a criminal case, the Madras High Court observed that appearing for a Maoist is not a crime and if a Maoist accused of an offence seeks the professional assistance of a lawyer, it is his duty to defend.
Murugan, a lawyer practicing in Madurai bench of the High court was made an accused in a criminal case on the basis of confession made by one of the accused. He filed discharge petition before the trial court contending that he used to practice before various Courts in Tamil Nadu and has defended the false cases foisted against innocent persons branding them as Maoist, including the co-accused person in the present case. He alleged that he has been implicated in this case, only with an ulterior motive to prevent him from defending the innocent Maoists. As the discharge petition was dismissed by the Trial Court, he moved the High Court.
Justice M.V.Muralidaran observed that except the confession statement said to have been given by the co-accused, there is no iota of material available on record to attract ingredients of the offence alleged against him.
“There were no materials to show that the petitioner is a member of terrorist gang or terrorist organization or involved in terrorist Act to constitute the offence said to have been committed by him in the case on hand. But, the trial Court erred in coming to the conclusion that there were materials and ingredients for the other offences alleged to have been committed by the petitioner. Admittedly, the trial Court failed to narrate what are all the materials available to implicate the petitioner in this case.” the Court said.
The Judge further said: “At this juncture, it is apposite to mention that the petitioner is a practising Advocate and he was appearing for the Maoists. Appearing for a Maoist is not a crime. On the other hand, if a Maoist accused of an offence seeks the professional assistance of a lawyer, it is his duty to defend. Therefore, as rightly submitted by the learned counsel for the petitioner, with an ulterior motive to prevent the petitioner from defending the innocent Maoists, he has been implicated in this case. As a lawyer, the petitioner is said to have contacted the accused persons and during meeting some conversations took place between them. For example, meeting of an accused person in the prison by a lawyer, would not mean that there was criminal conspiracy between them.”
Setting aside the Trial Court order, the High Court discharged the lawyer.