Rebecca Mammen John is an Indian lawyer, working primarily in the field of criminal defense. She has represented parties in several widely reported cases, including the families of victims of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre, Indian stockbroker Harshad Mehta, and the accused in the Aarushi murder case. She has also been appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor on occasion by the High Court of Delhi, and frequently comments in leading newspapers and the media on issues of criminal justice reform in India.
Rebecca John enrolled with the Bar Council of Delhi 1988 and has been practicing in the field of criminal law since then. In 2013, John became the first woman to be designated a senior counsel by the High Court of Delhi on the criminal side. She has represented the accused in a number of significant and widely reported cases, including representing Indian stockbroker Harshad Mehta in a number of cases concerning the 1992 securities scam early in her career.
In 2012, she represented Kobad Ghandy, an Indian Communist writer and political activist, against charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He was acquitted of the charges. In 2013, she represented Indian cricketer S. Sreesanth in the 2013 Indian Premier League spot-fixing and betting case in which he was ultimately discharged. She has also represented Nupur and Rajesh Talwar, who were accused of murdering their daughter Aarushi as well as a domestic worker, Hemraj, in a widely reported case in 2008. Both were eventually acquitted by the Allahabad High Court.
In 2010, John represented families of Sikh victims who died in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, in the case against the Congress politician Jagdish Tytler for his alleged participation in the riots. In 2015, John represented the families of the victims of the 1987 Hashimpura massacre, in which members of the Provincial Armed Constabulary were charged with killing more than 40 Muslim men. A Delhi court convicted 16 Provincial Armed Constabulary members of the murders, awarding them life sentences. John also made a case for the award of compensation to the victims’ families, along with advocate Vrinda Grover. In an interview after the conclusion of the case, she described it as “a very very difficult journey, but the verdict, 31 years too late, was still a verdict we welcomed and overjoyed about.”
In 2017, John represented politicians Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, and Sanjay Chandra of the Unitech Group in the 2G spectrum case, in which they were acquitted by a special court in Delhi. She has also represented and got discharged the Maran brothers in the Aircel-Maxis case She has represented factory workers of a Maruti Suzuki plant; 13 workers were convicted of murdering a manager during a 2012 workers strike, while 117 co-accused were acquitted of all charges. In 2016, she represented student and politician Kanhaiya Kumar and got him bail in a case of alleged sedition. She has also represented Kanhaiya Kumar in a case concerning a fine levied on him by the Jawaharlal Nehru University. The Delhi High Court ordered the fine to be set aside. John is a part of a team of lawyers representing Congress leaders in the National Herald case.
John is currently representing Indian journalist Priya Ramani, the defendant in a criminal defamation case filed by former Union Minister M. J. Akbar after Ramani alleged, during the MeToo movement in India, that Akbar had sexually harassed her in 1993. John is also representing several of the accused in the 2020 Delhi riots, foreign nationals belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat, who were arrested during the COVID-19 pandemic in India, and persons arrested near or at the site of protests against amendments to India’s citizenship laws. John has also represented the Chief Minister of New Delhi Arvind Kejriwal in several cases including obtaining his acquittal in 2020 in a defamation case filed against him. In 2020, John appeared for the one of the convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case (Nirbhaya case) pleading for the correct application of the law governing the execution of his sentence of death.
In addition to private criminal defense, she has on occasion been appointed as a Special Public Prosecutor and government counsel in a number of cases. In 2018, John was part of a panel of lawyers appointed by the Delhi government to represent it in certain cases before the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. The panel was temporarily dissolved by the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi. John was reinstated after the Delhi Government reconstituted the panel, following a Supreme Court ruling that the Lieutenant-Governor did not have the power to interfere with actions of the elected government of Delhi. In 2019, she was appointed as Special Public Prosecutor in the Ankit Saxena murder case
John studied law at the Faculty of Law, University of Delhi.
John has two brothers, both of whom live outside India.