New Delhi: Delhi lawyers, who remain on strike in the wake of their clashes with Delhi Police, say the recent violence was the result of “deep-seated resentment” the latter held against “black coats”.
“Police personnel in their respective thanas (stations) treat themselves as God. Police mostly do not care about people at all,” said Rajesh Sharma, a practising lawyer in Karkardooma court, one of Delhi’s six district courts.
When police refuse to file FIRs, he said, it is the lawyers who force them to do so by invoking Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which empowers magistrates to register cases.
“It is us who argue with them until they budge,” he added. “Hence, there is this deep-rooted aggression within police for lawyers.”
Rohini Bar Court Association chair Mahavir Sharma agreed, saying police were biased against lawyers since only they “can pluck holes in their botched theories”.
“In our society, only advocates can expose the misdeeds of police. Even if there is a robbery at one of our homes, police are reluctant to lodge a complaint…” Mahavir added.
Lawyers and police in Delhi have been at loggerheads since Saturday when a parking dispute between the two sides turned violent at the capital’s Tis Hazari court complex.
A clash ensued and police allegedly opened fire and locked up three lawyers. The altercation resulted in multiple injuries on both sides, and vehicles were vandalised and set on fire.
On Monday, viral CCTV footage showed lawyers allegedly attacking a policeman at Saket court, with a similar incident reported from Karkardooma court. The incidents triggered an unprecedented protest by Delhi Police at their ITO headquarters Tuesday that left a crucial intersection gridlocked for hours.
“We do not react unless it is an extreme situation,” Constable Meena, who did not want to reveal his full name, told ThePrint Tuesday. “If we are abused, we should remain quiet. If we are beaten up, we should remain quiet. Are we as cops not entitled to any human rights?”
The protest was called off nearly 12 hours after senior officers of the force assured protesting personnel that their grievances and demands — immediate arrest of the lawyers who assaulted the policemen at Tis Hazari and Saket courts, a stronger leadership and a union that could represent the force before the administration — will be addressed.
Also read: Do lawyers deserve special immunity in court complexes?
‘Violation of protocol’
Sharma of Karkardooma cited CCTV footage to claim the Saturday scuffle was the fault of Delhi Police.
“A lawyer had requested that an urgent matter was coming up [and sought a parking spot in the area where police park their vans]… It was around 4 pm when no new police van with detainees arrives, but police did not budge,” Sharma said. “Advocates never park in the area of police vans but the lawyer only tried to do it as it was 4 pm,” he added, saying police could have made an exception.
The fact that police opened fire was no less than mutiny, said Mahavir.
“Look at the kind of threats police officials have given us… what would have happened if the lawyers had fired?” he added. “Is this not mutiny?”
The lawyers contacted by ThePrint said this was not the first time lawyers were at the receiving end of humiliation and assault by police.
They cited a 2016 clash that erupted at Rohini court after security staff allegedly abused and assaulted a lawyer who wasn’t in uniform and stopped him from entering the court premises.
The lawyer was allegedly “dragged” to the police post on the court premises and beaten with lathis.
Two constables were suspended in the wake of the clashes for not “handling the situation professionally”, but police claimed three personnel had sustained injuries as well.
Speaking about Saturday’s incident, Delhi High Court Bar Association president Mohit Mathur said the detention of lawyers was in violation of police protocol.
“There was excessive use of force and shooting was resorted to. There is a protocol which bars you from shooting unless the mob has turned violent. There should have been a warning followed by baton charge, but here shooting was resorted to,” he added.
“Does the police protest behove the police force? Not even an FIR was registered against police on shooting day.”
Mathur claimed a district judge who wanted to see the detained lawyers was not allowed to do so.
“For 15 minutes, the district judge kept imploring that he be allowed [to see the lawyers]. Even a call to the commissioner went unanswered,” he said.
Mathur added that episodes of lawyers manhandling police personnel should be looked down upon, but said these were “stray incidents”.
“Most of these cases where lawyers have behaved improperly are stray incidents and it cannot be generalised for 70,000 lawyers of Delhi,” the lawyer said.
Also read: Why Delhi Police agitation is rare — only 5 major protests by cops since Independence
The police and lawyers are two cheeks of the same backside.
These are two groups of thugs – who fleece the honest citizen.
I enjoyed watching the tamasha yesterday.
May we have more entertainment
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