In a police vs lawyer fight, it is the law and not the hierarchy that must prevail
New Delhi Nov 06: The police vs lawyer fight at Delhi was probably one of the darkest days. Television visuals showed the battle out in the open and on Tuesday, the police took to the streets demanding justice.
It is ironic that the protectors of the law have indulge in such acts of violence and then go back to the streets demanding justice. Similar incidents have taken place in other parts of the country as well.
In Bengaluru back in the year 2012, the lawyers and the media clashed outside the court, when a matter regarding Gali Janardhan Reddy was being heard. The lawyers attacked the media crew and also police parties. The lawyers were demanding the media be removed from the premises. Stones were pelted and a police vehicle was set ablaze.
When these persons who form the pillars of democracy clash in the open, one could say that the situation is a pretty hopeless one. Will the police file a case against the lawyer or will a lawyer defend the police in court following such an incident.
Former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Santhosh Hegde says that the law must take its own course irrespective of any party. He tells OneIndia that the authority concerned should take strict action and none who have violated the law should be protected. No legal protection should be offered to anyone who has violated the law, he says.
Justice Hegde adds that if the police have found to have exceeded their powers, they must be acted upon.
Overall everyone has been unprofessional and from the pictures what I get to see is that the rights of self-defence have been exceeded. Irrespective of who the party is none deserve any protection if they have wronged. I would only say that all concerned should take action irrespective of the hierarchy. Action should be taken to protect law and order and also the reputation of the institutions concerned.
During the protest by the police thousands shouted, "humara Commissioner [of Police] kaisa ho, Kiran Bedi jaisa ho." PTI reported that the protest on Tuesday was reminiscent of the 1988 police-lawyer clash at Tis Hazari Courts Complex when the then 'super cop' of Delhi had invited the ire of advocates.
It was in January 1988 when Delhi Police arrested an advocate named Rajesh Agnihotri, after he was apprehended by the students of St Stephen's College for allegedly stealing from a ladies common room.
When the advocate was produced before Tis Hazari Court on January 16 that year with his hands cuffed, lawyers started protesting saying it is illegal.
The metropolitan magistrate discharged the lawyer the same day and also directed the commissioner of police to take action against the guilty police officials.
The lawyers went on strike from January 18 in support of their demand for action against the police officials.
Kiran Bedi, the first woman IPS officer, on January 20 made a statement at a press conference justifying the police action and criticising the order of the Magistrate in discharging the alleged "thief".
The next day when a group of lawyers sought to meet Kiran Bedi to express their concern at her office, located in the same Tis Hazari Courts complex, a lathi-charge was ordered on them in which several lawyers were injured.
For the next two months, the lawyers stopped courts from functioning in Delhi and neighbouring states, demanding Bedi's resignation.
The strike was called off after the Delhi High Court constituted a two-judge committee headed by Justice DP Wadhwa, the then sitting judge at HC, to investigate the matter.
The committee in its report held that hand-cuffing of lawyer was illegal and recommended that Bedi be transferred.
The incident haunted Bedi in 2015 when she was declared a candidate for Delhi's chief minister by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assembly polls.
Lawyers of all the six district courts in the national capital condemned the BJP decision to nominate Kiran Bedi.
The coordination committee of all district court bar associations had said the "legal fraternity wants to place on record that the decision to make her (Kiran Bedi) the chief ministerial candidate on the basis of her administrative skill is contrary to the records".
It further said that when she was posted as the DCP North in New Delhi, Kiran Bedi did "everything to avenge the lawyers of Tis Hazari Court who were demanding commission of enquiry against brutal 'lathi' charge on innocent lawyers".
Advocate SK Bagga, who won the last assembly election from Krishna Nagar constituency in East Delhi against Kiran Bedi, recalled the 1988 incident and said that the former IPS officer had brutally lathi-charged, tear-gassed and ordered use of water cannons against the agitating lawyers in which 100 of them were seriously injured.
He recalled that another advocate Rajeev Khosla, the prominent bar leader now, suffered serious eye injury due to the water cannon in 1988.
However, he said the only difference this time is that the police personnel have come out on roads and agitating against the lawyers for the Saturday and Monday incident in which cops have been thrashed by the advocates.
Recalling the similar lawyer-police clash, many Delhi cops who were protesting on Tuesday in the crowd remembered Kiran Bedi who was then at the heart of the controversy.
Some were carrying a big poster of Bedi, now lieutenant governor of Puducherry, chanting slogans like "Kiran Bedi sherni hamari" and "Humara Commissioner of Police kaisa ho, Kiran Bedi jaisa ho".