By Sunil Garodia
Lawyers all over the country have always broken the very same law that they swear by and defend. In contravention of several Supreme Court orders that prevent them from striking work, lawyers in West Bengal went on a prolonged strike several months ago. Clashes between lawyers and the police are also common in the state. There have been reports of such striking of work and clashes from most other states too.
But what happened in Delhi was unprecedented, shameful and deplorable. A tiff between a police constable and a lawyer over a parking spot in the Tis Hazari court in the national capital snowballed into a full-scale war between officers of the court and those entrusted with the duty to uphold the rule of law. The fracas quickly became a violent clash where eight lawyers and twenty policemen were injured. Police and other vehicles were also torched. It did not stop at that. On later days, litigants, journalists and citizens, apart from policemen, were also beaten up by agitated lawyers.
This has resulted in a cycle of accusations and counter-accusations with protests and dharnas from both sides. No one from either side is concerned about the way decency and the maintenance of law and order have been thrown to the winds in this game of one-upmanship. The resultant chaos on the streets of the capital has undermined the system of justice in Delhi. Lawyers, in particular, have been more aggressive and have resorted to forcibly closing down court premises. The Bar Council has watched helplessly.
Ordinary citizens who have to attend court do so with a lot of fear. If they see lawyers and the police clashing the way they did, their fear will be magnified many times. They will be forced to think about how they can expect justice from a place where those entrusted with securing it for them are fighting among themselves. The instigators and perpetrators on both sides should be punished. The Bar Council must stop being a toothless body in these matters and must book the lawyers for indiscipline by suspending their right to practice (for a good length of time) for bringing disrepute to the profession. If such a provision is not there in its charter, it must be immediately adopted to drill some sense into lawyers.