Clashes in Delhi shameful

Kashmir Times. Dated: 11/7/2019 12:06:11 AM

The violent clashes between police and lawyers in Delhi undermine basic norms of civic order

The unprecedented and shameful face-off between a constable of Delhi police and an advocate in the premises of Tis Hazari court over a small issue of parking of vehicles undermines the entire justice system in the national capital. A small tiff that led to a violent clash at Tis Hazari on Saturday when eight advocates and 20 police personnel were injured besides the striking lawyers assaulting litigants and a policeman outside Saket district court is highly condemnable. It amounts to taking law into their own by the advocates for not a big issue that involved parking of vehicles. Close on the heels of this incident, another police constable was thrashed allegedly outside the Karkardooma court for no fault of his. There have been other reports also of assaults on journalists, citizens and police by the lawyers that cannot be justified for any reason whatever. Now, as a cycle of threats, protests and counter-protests continues, amid appeals from top police officials to maintain calm, there is little for the citizen to take away in terms of a silver-lining. That lawyers, as officers of the court, or even just as citizens, have an ethical duty to maintain basic standards of legality and public decency, should not be something that needs to be stated explicitly. Yet, it must be. As recently as 2016, lawyers' attack on journalists at the Patiala House court during the then JNU student leader Kanhaiya Kumar's hearing on charges of sedition cannot be condoned. Kumar too was assaulted at the same time by some lawyers owing allegiance to the right wing parties and the ruling establishment at the Centre. These incidents are just some examples from the many across the country where lawyers have openly flouted the law, resorted to violence and violated the spirit of the Indian Constitution. In fact, it has been given to understand that anybody approaching or present in the premises is not safe from violent incidents at a place where common masses come to seek justice. Such incidents do not give good impression about the legal profession or the lawyers.
By such incidents in the courts and other judicial institutions, the criminal justice system in India has become an intimidating beast. The police and the legal fraternity have a responsibility to make it less so, to be available to and accessible for ordinary people for adjudication of criminal and civil cases wherein people expect delivery of justice. As of now, that is certainly not the case in the national capital. Those meant to uphold the rule of law are breaking it in the most uncivilized and brazen manner possible, those who are meant to ensure order are bringing chaos to the streets. The fact that the root of the violence, and the face-off, is something as petty as a parking spot only shows what little regard officers of the law have for their own professions. The way forward in such cases is straightforward: Those who have indulged in violence, whether donning Khaki or a black coat, must be brought to book. The protesting policemen who feel that the government and senior leadership of the force has little regard for those of their colleagues that have been injured must be reassured. And then, perhaps, we can see something that resembles the rule of law in Delhi. The High Court has ordered an inquiry headed by a retired judge which should be carried forward with cooperation of all the parties involved in the incidents that have taken place during the past five days. Only after the completion of such an inquiry, the guilty from both sides should be brought to book not only to ensure the prevalence of rule of law and civic order. Such a mechanism will also instill a sense of confidence and restore faith of the commoners in the system that has been prescribed for good and justice to every citizen.



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