Police vs Lawyers: A history of love-hate relationship, violent clashes

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Updated: Nov 06, 2019 1:44 PM

Police vs lawyers in Delhi: Police and lawyers work side by side across the country to administer criminal justice delivery system but they also have a history of violent clashes.

Delhi Police, Lawyers, Clash, AdvocatesDelhi police personnel staged an unprecedented protest outside police headquarters in Delhi.

Police vs Lawyers: The unprecedented protest and demonstration by hundreds of Delhi police personnel have once again brought the old fissures between the lawyers and police to the fore. These two groups, who are an integral part of the criminal justice delivery system in the country, have a long history of clashes that sometimes turn violent. It’s a love-hate relationship between the two privileged groups of society as advocates and police work in close coordination with each other for the prosecution of offences. However, their relationship also suffers the instances of dislikes and an unspoken contest between them to maintain supremacy in their dealings.

The rivalry between the groups stems from the high handed behaviour by a section of both the groups in their respective area of influence. While police personnel are often at the receiving end of lawyers’ wrath inside the court complexes where lawyers are present in large numbers and are well united. However, the situation turns to their disadvantage and if they face police action outside court complexes.

“Police and advocates are an integral part of criminal justice delivery system and they work side by side across the country, be it trial courts or high courts. But sometimes there are disagreements between the two,” said a senior IPS officer who is on central deputation, adding that it’s the responsibility of both the bar associations and senior police officers to maintain the close cooperation.

He blamed the breakdown in chain of command of Delhi police personnel deployed at Tis Hazari court complex that resulted in violent clashes between the police and lawyers over the trivial issue of parking vehicles.

“The force should only be used under the supervision of the senior most police officer present at the spot or with the consent of a magistrate. But in this case, police and lawyers got involved in the clash and an affray eventually turned into a riot,” he told Financial Express Online.

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Other senior police officers also blame unruly behaviour by a section of young lawyers that sometimes results in clashes between police and lawyers.

“A section of young lawyers is not disciplined and they quite frequently resort to protests and vandalism for acceptance of their demands,” said a senior police officer in Uttar Pradesh Police.

Unlike other groups such as students and workers, lawyers are often confident about the legal protection available to them as citizens of the country. They are also better placed to get judicial protection against coercive action by the police. It makes the job of police even more difficult to take action against them as a close relationship between the bar and bench makes it difficult for police to take action lawyers unlike other pressure groups.

In the Tis Hazari case, the lawyers were able to get an urgent hearing in Delhi High Court on Sunday that took suo-moto cognizance of media reports about the clashes outside Tis Hazari Court.

In its order, Delhi High Court appointed retired high court judge SP Garg to conduct the investigation within six weeks. It also directed Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik to transfer special commissioner Sanjay Singh, who allegedly ordered the lathi charge, and additional DCP Harinder Singh. The court also directed the police commissioner to take action against the two ASIs.

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The court also directed Delhi police not to register any FIR against lawyers in the case and also barred the police from taking any coercive action against lawyers. It also ordered the government to provide the best possible treatment to lawyers injured in the clash.

Delhi High Court’s suo-moto hearing on Sunday, when the courts are closed, and the subsequent orders were perceived to be one-sided by a section of Delhi police personnel.

“Police is a disciplined force, if a policeman has committed something wrong then primarily it is the responsibility of the department to take action against him. And even if the court wanted to intervene then it should have served a notice to the department and hear its views before passing any order,” said the senior IPS officer who is on central deputation.

He also blamed senior leadership of Delhi police for not warning their subordinates about the risk of venturing out alone in court complexes in Delhi till the time situation improved. It resulted in a group of lawyers thrashing a policeman outside Saket court complex that further aggravated the matter.

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The loss of confidence in their leadership, which was on display during the protest, resulted in police personnel gathering at the police headquarters at ITO in New Delhi, chanting slogans against the commissioner of police Amulya Patnaik. Police personnel also praised former IPS officer and Lieutenant Governor of Pudduchery Kiran Bedi for showing the courage by taking stern action against lawyers in Delhi in 1988.

“Several sections of society are resorting to demonstrations and protests for redressal of their grievances. It was only a matter of time when an organised force like Delhi police also resorted to such tactics to redress its grievances,” he added.

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