With thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana camping at Delhi borders, several lawyers have stepped forward to prevent them from facing legal hassles with police lodging FIRs against the agitators especially in Haryana. From arrest of farmer leaders to use of teargas on agitators have been challenged by the lawyers at different platforms. The Indian Express looks at the groups of lawyers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana High Court, who are fighting legal battles for the agitators.
Advocacy group stands by farmers
‘Sabka Mangal Ho’ is an advocacy group of lawyers that fights legal battles for farmers apart from fighting against the cases of corruption, group’s chairman, advocate Pradeep Rapria, said. Ahead of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ call, Haryana Police had arrested around 80 farmers mostly by conducting midnight raids. The advocacy group through its wing – the Haryana Progressive Farmers Union — approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court to question and oppose the police move. According to Rapria, the farmers and lawyers from farming background are associated with the union. “The police detained or arrested even those farmers who were not even facing FIRs in connection with the current farmer agitation,” says Rapria.
On its part, the police had stated the farmer organisations “have history of indulging in criminal activities, creating law and order problem and disturbing public peace and order”.
Activist lawyers step forward
Advocate R S Bains provides legal assistance to the farmer leaders. ‘Jai Kisan Andolan’ activist Rajeev Godara said, “Bains helped farmers to put forward their point of view before the government when the Punjab government discussed the matter with them. Later, the Punjab Assembly passed three amendment Bills removing Punjab from the ambit of the central laws. By writing for the newspapers, veteran lawyer Joginder Singh Toor had explained complex legal aspects of the farm laws pointing out how these are harmful to the farmers. Godara, a practicing lawyer of the High Court, himself remains active to explain the point of view of the farmers on social media apart from his efforts to mobilise the farmers on ground. Toor is president of Chandigarh unit of All India Lawyers Union, while Godara is its general secretary.
Advocate Ravinder Singh Dhull Thursday went to the Delhi border to offer legal aid to the agitator protesters. “Several FIRs have been lodged against the farmers in connection with the agitation. I will not only provide them legal assistance but will also fight their legal battle in the courts, if needed,” Dhull told The Indian Express. Not only this, Dhull has also sent notices to top functionaries of Haryana government in connection with use of teargas and water cannons on agitators when they were trying to march to Delhi recently. Dhull, through a legal notice, had even requested the top functionaries “to pay the cost incurred in security arrangements around Haryana for ‘illegal’ blockade of roads, damage caused to the public property due to … illegal act, cost of usage of teargas, water cannons”.
“following the illegal instructions of road blockage, local administration used illegal methods viz water cannons, teargas during this winter season which not only could have resulted in aggravation of health problem in old age farmers, but usage of cannons etc could have actually aggravated the risk of spread of Covid-19,” Dhull mentioned in the notice. He says the Haryana Police should not have tried to halt movement of farmers when they were marching to Delhi to protest in a democratic and peaceful manner. A senior police officer said the arrangements were made as part of preventive measures to maintain law and order. When asked about the legal notice, the officer said, “This is like the administration is asked to pay for expenses for making arrangements to prevent floods. We will appropriately deal with every legal aspect related to the issue.”
Legal notice to Kangana Ranaut
An advocate, Hakam Singh, has sent a legal notice to actor Kangana Ranaut, demanding an apology for a tweet in which “she had falsely identified an old woman at a farmers’ protest as Shaheen Bagh’s ‘Bilkis Dadi’.
“By tweeting in such a manner, the same also points out towards the fact that the protest which is being conducted by the farmers, is being conducted by bringing persons on rent. Such a low thinking from you, who herself is a lady and celebrity, is not acceptable,” the advocate mentioned in the legal notice asking the actor to tender an apology within seven days.
Former HC judges back agitators
Extending support to the agitator farmers, three former judges of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice MS Gill, Justice Ranjit Singh and Justice Nawab Singh have criticised the manner in which the farmers were treated by Haryana police. They said: “It was not only undemocratic, but brutal as well. Use of indiscriminate water cannons in this harsh cold winter and use of lathis and other means would put any democratic government to shame. In return farmers were seen offering water and food to lathi wielding police.”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines