Ram Jethmalani offers to defend Binayak Sen

New Delhi: Prominent lawyer Ram Jethmalani on Tuesday offered to defend rights activist Binayak Sen, sentenced by a trial court to life imprisonment for sedition, in higher judiciary and said he did not find it contradictory to fight the case and be a BJP MP.

"I do not believe in party line. No party line says that lawyers should not appear for some people," Jethmalani said.

He said if Sen seeks his professional assistance, "I will do it for him. I will be very happy to fight for him".

Jethmalani said he cannot criticise the Chhattisgarh court order as he has not seen the judgement. "But personally, I think the case is weak. I think Sen has been wrongly convicted."

Former Chief Justice A M Ahmadi said he was "taken aback" at the judgement. He said "fundamental right of freedom of expression has been held equal as terrorism."

Ahmadi said carrying letters and handing it over to somebody else is not a strong ground to convict someone.

Another Chief Justice V N Khare said the state has to prove to the hilt that the person who it has got hold of is guilty.

"In case evidence is fragile and not sustainable, then the high court will have to answer," he said reacting to the judgement.

"I have not decided to take up the case. But I have said if I am approached by any friend or representative of Binayak Sen, I would be quite willing to appear for him and do my best for his defence...He has right of appeal and the appellate court will hear his case and I am willing to do it for him," Jethmalani said.

On why he is willing to take up the case, the BJP leader said, "I do not decide that on the merits of case which I take up...In fact, I do not take up any cases these days. There are some exceptions which I make and I am quite prepared to make an exception in Binayak Sen case."

To a question whether there is a conflict of interest in taking up the case, he said, "I look after my conflict of interest myself. BJP does not prevent me from doing my professional duty. If some body approaches me for professional help it is my duty to give it under the rules to which I am subject."

Defending his stand even if it goes against the state government which is a BJP-ruled state, he said "so what? BJP government should be happy if an innocent man is acquitted."

To a question whether he has discussed the issue with his party, Jethmalani said, "I do not discuss my case with my party people. I do not have to."