Only three out of 107 witnesses have been examined and cross-examined so far.
It has been 11 years since advocate Shahid Azmi was killed in his office for representing clients he believed to be falsely implicated in terror crimes. However, only three witnesses out of 107 have been examined and cross-examined in his own murder trial.
On February 11, 2010, Azmi was home at around 8 p.m. when his office boy told him that some clients were waiting for him at his office. Upon reaching his office, he saw two men waiting inside his cabin and two others waiting in the outside area. Azmi called the other two in and they shot him. The office boy immediately ran and called his mother to the office. She, along with others, took Azmi to a hospital where he was declared “brought dead”.
The accused — Devendera Jagptap, Pintu Dagale, Vinod Vichare and Hasmukh Solanki — were arrested on the same day. While Mr. Jagtap and Mr. Solanki are in jail, the other two accused are out on bail.
Azmi was representing many accused in the 7/11 train blasts cases, Malegaon 2006 bomb blasts cases, the Aurangabad arms haul case, and the Ghatkopar blasts case. Hansal Mehta’s 2013 film Shahid starring Rajkummar Rao is based on the life and work of Azmi
His brother, advocate Khalid Azmi said, “Shahid received many death threats on calls, and he had also written to the Kurla Police Station and the then Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act court judge about it. He had also tried to meet the then Commissioner of Police and seek protection. But my brother was unheard.”
Talking about the trial, Public Prosecutor Vaibhav Bagade told The Hindu, “The trial started in December 2018 before Judge U.M. Padwad. The complainant, an eyewitness and two panch witnesses have been examined and we are awaiting cross examination. Although the trial had to be stalled because of COVID-19, the next date is February 15.”
Mr. Khalid Azmi said there had been a delay in conducting the trial because the accused kept filing bail applications.
All the four accused have been charged under Sections 302 (murder), 120B (criminal conspiracy), 452 (house-trespass after preparation for hurt, assault) of the Indian Penal Code, along with Sections 3 (licence for acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition), 25 (punishment for certain offences) and 27 (punishment for using arms, etc.) of the Arms Act.
On Thursday, there will be the Fourth Advocate Shahid Azmi Memorial Lecture titled, ‘Justice in Indian Judiciary’ organised by the Innocence Network, an organisation dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove their innocence of crimes.