Legal aid to suspected terrorists be deprecated

The principle of natural justice is audi alteram partem i.e. nobody should be condemned unheard. The logical extension of this theory is that everybody should be provided with legal aid to defend himself or herself in the court of law so as to prove his/her innocence. He or she should have the freedom to engage a lawyer of his/her choice to plead the case in the court. In fact, this freedom is a necessary ingredient of the civilized society that respects the rule of law.

Equal justice and free legal aid to all citizens is enshrined in Article 39 A of the constitution of India. This Article mandates the State to ensure the opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. As a matter of fact, there are legal aid committees across the country, which provide legal aid to all needy and poor people right from the lower courts up to the Apex Court. The Supreme Court of India has its own legal committee which is manned by scores of permanent staff. Hundreds of lawyers, including many senior lawyers have volunteered themselves for rendering legal aid to needy persons as and when they make request to the legal aid committee of the Supreme Court. And this fact is known to everybody who has any concern with the litigation of any type.
So, why the vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Mushirul Hasan, who is otherwise known to be a famous historian and academician has stirred the hornets’ nest by saying that his university would provide legal aid to accused students allegedly involved in bomb blasts in Delhi the other day. The statement of Mushirul Hasan has come a day after the accused persons were arrested and at a time when the atmosphere is surcharged throughout the country. His primary duty as a responsible person is to restore calm and peace. After all, nobody had said that the accused would be deprived of legal aid, so the statement of Mushirul Hasan amounts to putting oil in the fire and thereby further whip up the communal feelings. Overnight he has become the darling of the same Muslims who were baying for his blood when he had said a few years back that the ban on Salman Rushdie’s book ‘Satanic Verses’ would hardly serve any purpose. But in this case he has failed to take any ideological stand. His gratuitous or deliberate statement has already enraged a large number of secular persons as it was expected from him to have condemned the terrorist activities of every hue and shade. Although his secular credentials are above-board, yet the statement of legal aid to accused persons depicts that he nurses sympathy for terrorists and this is because that those who have been arrested belong to a particular religion. This, it is hoped, is not true but his thinking must appear in his conduct also.

The amount of polarization that has taken place on the religious lines is really very alarming and therefore regrettable indeed. Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh has further aggravated the matter by supporting the decisions of Jamia Millia Islamia. Arjun Singh has never been known for statesman like qualities. He is more known for his foxy qualities to ditch others and thereby climb the ladders of success. He is also known for his ruthless insensitivity and corrupt activities like Churhat lottery case etc, He will not hesitate to disturb and destabilize anybody or any institution if that help creates embarrassment for his rivals. So the backing of Arjun Singh to Mushirul Hasan’s decision is not surprising because his adversary is Manmohan Singh and none else. He knows it well that his endorsement of Mushirul Hasan would complicate the matters for the duo of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. The more the embarrassment for them the more the joy of Arjun Singh

What is more intriguing is that HRD Minister has not explained as to how the legal aid to terrorists or suspected terrorists would be in the national interest. Are they not being put on different footing from other citizens of the country, who get legal aid only though the constitutional provisions? There are no two opinions that the country cannot afford to be soft towards Muslim terrorists. They should be crushed with iron hands in the same manner as the Khalistani terrorists were decimated in Punjab by Sardar Beant Singh and KPS Gill. There should be no discrimination between the terrorists on the grounds of caste, creed or religion. And it is the only way to restore the confidence of public in the rule of law.

Thus the decision of Mushirul Hasan to provide legal aid to suspected terrorists at the cost of university’s funds should be deprecated and he must be stopped forthwith from indulging in such misdemeanors.