SC upholds R K Anand's conviction

Bench accepts criminal lawyers apology

The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected noted criminal lawyer R K Anand’s plea to quash his conviction of contempt of court charges for influencing a witness in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case but accepted his unconditional apology and offer to exclusively give free legal aid to the poor for one year.

“We feel that no useful purpose will be served by sending the contemnor to jail. On the contrary, by keeping him out and making him do the things that he has undertaken to do would serve a useful social purpose,” a bench of justices G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam said.

The court, in its verdict, accepted the unconditional apology and offer of Anand to provide free legal aid to the poor for one year and not take up any other professional work by charging fees.

“In terms of his undertaking, the contemnor shall not do any kind of professional work charging any fees or for any personal considerations for one year from today. He shall exclusively devote his professional services to help pro bono the accused who, on account of lack of resources, are not in a position to engage any lawyer to defend themselves and have no means to have their cases effectively presented before the court,” it said. The court also directed Anand, a former Rajya Sabha member, to pay Rs 21 lakh through a demand draft to the Bar Council of India within one week.

The hit-and-run case involved Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of the late Navy chief S M Nanda, who had mowed down six people under the wheels of his rashly-driven BMW on January 10, 1999.

The Delhi High Court had held Anand guilty along with another senior advocate I U Khan for obstructing the course of administration of justice and, as a punishment, had debarred them from appearing in courts for four months.

The apex court’s verdict came on Anand’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court order. It had issued a show-cause notice to Anand as to why his punishment should not be enhanced.

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