Assault at Tis Hazari: Women lawyers meet CJ, demand inquiry

Women lawyers claimed that on Friday they were 'warned' to not get involved in a case against a fellow lawyer.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: May 27, 2014 1:40 am

A delegation of women lawyers and lawyers from the Northeastern states met the Delhi High Court Chief Justice on Monday with their complaint against the incident of harassment at the Tis Hazari courts complex last week.

On Friday, friends of a molestation victim and two women lawyers representing her were reportedly harassed by were harassed by a group of unidentified lawyers who reportedly practice at the Tis Hazari courts. The incident took place during a hearing in the case.

The delegation of lawyers that met Chief Justice G Rohini on Monday included senior advocates Indira Jaising and Meenakshi Arora, advocates Maneesha Dhir, Paul Roy Paske and the two women lady lawyers involved. The delegation submitted a representation seeking an inquiry into the incident.

“The incident amounts to contempt of court. We have requested the Chief Justice to call for the records from police and take suo motu action. She has assured us that she has already called for a report from the magistrate and will take action soon,” Jaising said.

Women lawyers claimed that on Friday they were “warned” to not get involved in a case against a fellow lawyer, and then were surrounded and intimidated by a group of 30-40 lawyers in the courtroom. The women also alleged that they were slapped, and the friends accompanying the molestation victim were “beaten badly”.

The women lawyers said they had sought action under the SC/ST Act as the lawyers who had assaulted them had made racial slurs against them and and the victim, all of whom are from the Northeast. “I had thought that since I was in an advocate’s uniform and was wearing a band they would listen to me and calm down. But they kept threatening us and one of them slapped me,” one of the women lawyers said.

In the representation, the delegation stated that “the incident clearly reflects the unsafe environment in which women lawyers have to work even within the court premises, and is an indicator of the kind of abuse they have to face when they try to stand up for the rights of women victims who have been sexually abused by members of the lawyer fraternity”.

The women lawyers have also requested the Chief Justice to constitute a sexual harassment complaints committee to handle such incidents.
The delegation met the office bearers of the Delhi High Court Bar Association to seek their support. Advocate Rajiv Khosla, president o the DHCBA said the association was “looking into the incident”.

“We are in touch with police and the Tis Hazari Bar Association. We will take action once we can ascertain the facts,” Khosla said.
He, however, dismissed the allegations of racial abuse. “The lawyers from the Northeast are part of the same legal fraternity. This is an incident between the lawyer of accused and lawyer of the victim. There is no question of region or religion,” he said.

Victim to get security on court visit to record statement: Police

The statement of the woman from Nagaland, who was molested allegedly lawyer by a on Thursday, will be recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC, police said on Monday.

Police said the woman will also be given a security cover when she is produced in court for the recording of the statement.

On Friday, during a hearing on the matter in Tis Hazari courts complex, the woman’s friend and two women lawyers representing her had been assaulted by other lawyers on the court premises.

Police sources said getting her statement recorded in front of the magistrate would ensure that it serves was an evidence during trial against the accused.

The incident of molestation took place when the woman, who works in R K Puram, was returning to her North Delhi residence. She was allegedly molested and slapped by the lawyer.

Meanwhile, several Northeast students’ groups have planned protests outside the Bar Council of India office on Tuesday afternoon.

“We want action against those lawyers who beat one of our friends. Is it not wrong that the investigating officer of the case was also harassed and his shirt torn-off by those lawyers?” Savio, one of the student activists, said. (ENS)

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