Bar Council Dubs Lawyers' Debarment By HC 'Encroachment'

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New Delhi, Aug 23 (UNI) Indian lawyers' statutory body protested today what it said was ''encroachment'' of its powers in the Delhi High Court debarring two ''senior advocates'' accused of conspiring to shield a hit-and-run accused.

Senior advocates R K Anand and I U Khan, defence and prosecution counsel respectively in the BMW hit-and-run case, were held guilty on Thursday of contempt of court and debarred from the High Court and other Delhi courts for next four months.

The trouble with such an order is the encroachment of powers assigned by law to the Bar Council of India, a statutory body of India's 1.2 million advocates, journalists were told this afternoon.

The issue figured at a news conference addressed by BCI chairman Suraj Narain Prasad Sinha and other office bearers, including vice chairmen Jai Ram Beniwal and Ram Avtar Gupta and member Jagdev.

''We are unanimous,'' Gupta said, that if anyone is guilty, they must be punished, ''but the powers conferred under the Advocates Act should not be imposed upon.'' Experts say an accused held guilty of Contempt of Court is ordinarily punishable by up to six months in prison, depending on the judges' discretion.

They declined to elaborate, saying it won't be fair to comment without seeing the HC order first.

Council spokesmen also called for a thorough investigation into a new scandal surfacing in Punjab and Haryana High Court, where a bagful of money was dropped off at a judge's home ten days ago.

According to published reports, on Justice Nirmaljit Kaur's instructions, the parcel was opened by a court employee, Amrik Singh, who found it contained Rs 15 lakh in currency notes. Police were called in by the judge's staff.

On Singh's complaint, a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered.

The courier was a law clerk, Parkash Ram, in the employ of Haryana's Additional Advocate General Sanjeev Bansal, who resigned on August 19 and surrendered.

Another Judge, Justice Nirmal Yadav proceeded on leave on Friday, August 22, charging an attempt by ''some influential persons'' to ''shift the focus'' on her to shield the guilty.

Gupta said there should be a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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