The much awaited trial in the 26/11 terror attack case may not begin on Wednesday as the special court has to first decide a petition seeking to debar lawyer Anjali Waghmare from defending the lone surviving gunman, Mohammed Amir Ajmal Kasab, on grounds of "professional misconduct".
Waghmare, appointed by the court to defend Kasab, is mired in a controversy which seems to put her in a tight spot in the wake of allegations that she had first accepted brief of a witness in this case before deciding to defend Kasab. Citing public interest, Advocate K B N Lam has moved an application before the court alleging that Waghmare had accepted the brief from Harishchandra Shrivardhankar, who was victim of attack by Kasab and his team members at Cama hospital in Mumbai on November 26 last year.
Shrivardhankar is a prime witness in the case and was seeking compensation from the government for injuries sustained in his neck during the attack. According to Lam, Waghmare had sought instructions from this witness and even signed a Vakalatnama to help him seek compensation. She had kept the court in dark about this development, Lam alleged. He contended that Waghmare cannot accept brief of accused Kasab if she had decided to appear for a witness in the same case.
Replying to Lam's allegation, Waghmare told the court on previous hearing that she had neither signed any Vakalatnamanor sought instructions from any witness in this case. Thereupon, Lam insisted that she give an undertaking to this effect.
Judge M L Tahilyani is yet to pass an order in connection with the issue, which is likely to be a centre of attention during the proceedings in the special court tomorrow, specially set up in the Arthur Road Central prison, under high security.
A complaint has also been filed with the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa against Waghmare alleging that she was guilty of "professional misconduct" by accepting briefs of witness and accused in the same case.
The complaint filed by Sachin Vaze, former cop and Shiv Sena activist alleged that she had violated rule 14 of Bar Council of India rules.
"The Bar Council has not yet decided my complaint. I have talked to the witness who had categorically informed that Waghmare had signed the vakalatnama," Vaze said and claimed he had seen the document signed by the lawyer.
Earlier, Waghmare had earned the wrath of Shiv Sena activists for accepting the brief of Kasab after she was appointed by the court to defend him. Party workers had raised slogans outside her house at Worli, prompting the police to provide her security.