Delhi Police vs. Lawyers – Both Are Strong Pillars of Democracy and Must Work Closely to Maintain Harmony

The tension between the policemen and lawyers reached new heights when a scuffle broke between them in Delhi’s Hazari Court on 2nd November 2019. Basically, it started with an argument over a parking problem that turned horrible.

The scene led to protests, arson, lathi-charge, and some vehicles in the lockup area were burnt as well as demolished. Many advocates forcefully tried to enter the lockup and manhandled many policemen. There was retaliation from the enforcement side, where they had to fire in the air.

A lawyer got injured in this scurry with a gunshot, policemen trying to counsel the angry lawyers were beaten mercilessly. The under trial 150 prisoners also had to suffer suffocation because of the burning of vehicles near the lockup. It is said that several advocates and 20 policemen were injured in this ill-fated incident.

Both the police and Delhi lawyers are crucial pillars of the Indian criminal justice system that need to work in total harmony. Imagine a parking issue between a lawyer and on-duty policemen leading to a protest from both strong representatives of India. Shocking!

Even the High court dismissed application directing no coercive action to be taken against 2 lawyers based on 2 FIRs filed on November 2nd. It was meant just for that incident and inapplicable for subsequent incidents.

The high court took suo moto cognizance and ordered judicial inquiry panel to look into Tis Hazari clash autonomously without any influence from the court. Delhi high courts retire judge SP Garg will conduct the police vs lawyers clash inquiry, which will be concluded with 6 weeks.

This suo-moto hearing was conducted in an emergency on Sunday at the Delhi high court, so the court’s orders to the police not to register FIR against lawyers regarding this case as well as taking coercive action was perceived as one-sided justice by several Delhi police personnel. Another occurrence that aggravated this matter was a police subordinate ventured in the Delhi court’s complex and got thrashed by some lawyers.

How the khakis and white collars reacted after this appalling incident?

Police protest

On Tuesday, 4th November 2019, Police personnel in thousands [80,000 personnel in Delhi police] protested outside ITO [police headquarters]. Their self-confidence got hurt in their system, which got displayed in the protest. Their chief Amulya Patnaik urged them to resume their duty as they were a disciplined force and it is expected of them to uphold the law for the people and the government. He requested them to have faith in the judiciary inquiry, which is underway.

There was a lot of criticism on social media, where police personnel seniors and juniors had their say. Fortunately, in 11 hours the police ended its protest and started their duty. It was a protest to reparation their grievances because even if the Delhi police are organized force there comes a time when they need to vent out.

After two weeks from the day of the clash, the Delhi police resumed their duty at the Hazari court premises but advocates in six districts continued to boycott their duties. The police personnel wore plain clothes rather than their uniform dues to the uneasiness of the hostile environment.

Lawyer’s demonstration

The district court lawyers in Capital staged a protest and even locked Saket court complex’s main gates. Even the public was not allowed to enter. At the Rohini court, a protest was initiated by hundreds of lawyers. One protesting lawyer even climbed on the Rohini court’s building threatening to jump down but subsequently climbed down. There was a meeting held between the Delhi police and the lawyers at Governor Anil Baijal’s residence, which failed and the latter continued its protest on 8th November 2019.

Allegations & court’s advice

Police say shots were aimed in the air to ensure under trial prisoners’ safety. The lawyers claim they were targeted because the police want to taint them as villains.

The court expressed its anger over this ‘dissonance and friction’ that prevailed between the police and the bar that represent and constitute the protector and guardian of the law. It suggested both having a meeting along with responsible representatives and sorting their differences based on discussions and deliberations.

Lawyers and police are two faces of the same coin that need to work closely and in harmony. Any conflict or disagreement between them is harmful to the nation as well as destructive in terms of public interest.

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