An advocate R.K. Anand has been told by the Supreme Court to provide free legal services for a year and pay Rs.21 lakh to Bar Council of India to support law colleges attended mostly by students from poor families.
Delhi High Court convicted Anand for his attempt to influence prosecution witness Sunil Kulkarni in the 1999 BMW hit?and?run case, in which six people were killed.
The involvement of Anand was exposed by a news channel in a sting operation.
The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi, Justice Aftab Alam and Justice C.K. Prasad said that no useful purpose would be served in sending Anand to jail while accepting his offer to perform the pro bono services.
Justice Alam said “…circumstances persuade us to take a slightly lenient view of the matter. 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. We, accordingly, accept the offer made by the contemnor.”
The court said that at the end of one year, Anand could resume his private law practice. But he would not leave any case assigned to him by the Delhi Legal Services Authority incomplete. He would continue to attend to those cases, free of cost, till they come to a close.
According to the court, “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”
The judgment said the Delhi Legal Services Authority, in coordination with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Authority, will frame a scheme to avail of Anand’s services.
The apex court by its July 29, 2009, verdict not only upheld the Delhi High court order holding Anand guilty of derailing the course of justice in the BMW case, but also issued notice to him asking as to why his sentence should not be enhanced.
In the BMW case, six people, including three policemen, were killed Jan 10, 1999. The luxury car was being driven by Sanjeev Nanda, son of arms dealer Suresh Nanda and grandson of former naval chief Admiral S.M. Nanda.