Saturday, August 11, 2012

Can’t deny anyone free legal aid: SC

Can’t deny anyone free legal aid: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday voiced reservations on whether free legal aid can be denied to an accused charged with abetment of prostitution, child abuse, and economic law violations.
“We have some reservations whether such exceptions can be carved out particularly keeping in mind the constitutional mandate and the universally accepted principle that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” observed a bench of justices AK Patnaik and Madan B. Lokur.
“If such exceptions are accepted, there may be a tendency to add some more, such as in cases of terrorism thereby diluting the constitutional mandate and the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the
constitution,” the court said.
The SC also returned to the Madhya Pradesh high court an appeal filed by one Rajoo, who along with his friend Vijay, gang raped a woman living in a Madhya Pradesh village 14 years ago.
While the trial court had allowed a state-paid lawyer to the accused and sentenced to a 10-year jail term, the high court endorsed this order but without providing a free aid lawyer to the rapists.
That right to free legal aid is a fundamental right and this guarantee must be available to the accused, the top court said.

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