I was taken aback to hear that certain persons are spreading a rumour that I did not defend Afzal in the High Court and instead asked for him to be put to death by lethal injection.
I was asked by advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan who appeared for Shaukat in the High Court to defend Mohd Afzal. Apparently many persons were approached before me but were not available. I was brought in at the last moment, perhaps a couple of weeks before the arguments were to begin in the High Court. I was told that payment would not be possible and that I would have to do the case free.
I gladly accepted even though it meant sacrificing my other work because I am totally opposed to the death sentence for any person. This has been my consistent stand over years.
When I appeared for Afzal in the High Court, I found that there was nobody to help me in those days except for advocate Nitya who was more familiar with the case than I was since she had appeared in the Trial Court. Apart from her I found nobody interested in helping Afzal. I believe campaigns were conducted to help the other accused and also to raise money for them, but not one person met me during the six months of the day to day proceedings in the High Court. The expenses of the case came to about Rs. 40,000/- because volumes of materials had to be Xeroxed. About half that amount was reimbursed by Afzal's cousin. I am putting this on record to emphasize that all the current champions of Afzal coming on television were nowhere to be seen when they were needed most.
I argued before the High Court for three weeks continuously. I have never argued that Afzal accepts his guilt and that he prays for death by lethal injection. I have my written arguments which were filed before the High Court and anyone wishing to read them may contact me. In the 250 page written submissions there is not one word on death by lethal injection. In the High Court judgment there is not one word on that.
You must remember that in those days the High Court arguments were being covered by a battery of journalists on a day-to-day basis. Had I mentioned to the Court that I want Afzal to die by lethal injection that would have made sensational headlines.
I met Afzal in jail thrice. On the second occasion he told me that someone had informed him that I was asking for him to be put to death by lethal injection. I told him that I would never argue such a position. He was satisfied on that explanation and the issue was not raised with me thereafter.
I spoke to Mr. Jethmalani who was also in Court during that period and he has given me a letter which I am attaching with this document.
Sd Colin Gonsalves