From all I've read about the case for some years now, I am pretty damned sure: Manu Sharma killed Jessica Lall.
But my being damned sure is some distance short of a conviction in a court of law. My being damned sure makes no difference to Manu Sharma's right to a trial and legal representation.
So I am actually glad that one of this country's best known lawyers, Ram Jethmalani, has decided to represent Sharma. Glad, because it is a reaffirmation of the only way justice can mean anything: when even a man accused of an outrageous crime, even a man who nearly got away scot free, even a man much of the world detests -- when even such a man gets a fair trial. When a lawyer ignores public sentiment to take on such a case.
So I am unable to make sense of what a criminal lawyer called Kamini Jaiswal, a family friend of Jethmalani, told the Hindustan Times: "In a matter of this nature where public opinion is against Manu, Jethmalani should not have taken up the case."
(Similar sentiments, sometimes extrapolated into threats, found voice after the July train blasts in Bombay. Luckily, some brave lawyers did come forward, despite the threats, to defend the accused).
Public opinion can have nothing to do with Jethmalani's decision to take the case. Jaiswal should have known better. It's good Jethmalani knew better.
I don't want Manu Sharma, if he's guilty as I believe he is, to escape punishment. But I do want Manu Sharma to have a lawyer defend him in a reasonable trial. And so whether public opinion is against Manu or not, that he has found a lawyer is, by itself, a tribute to justice. Let it flower.