IPS officer Kiran Bedi discusses police-lawyer run-ins old and new with AVISHEK G DASTIDAR & PRAGYA KAUSHIKA
What is your opinion of the violence by lawyers at Patiala House Courts?
Public memory is short. This is not the first time this has happened. Except that it has happened before a younger generation…
Do you believe that lawyers involved in the violence should be arrested?
Of course. They must be arrested, held for contempt of court and licences cancelled too… Had we been doing so in the past, anywhere and wherever they committed breach of professional ethics, we would not have reached this situation. We only saw a repeat…
How well do you think the police handled the current situation?
Had the police tried to arrest lawyers, mayhem would have happened. So the police acted with maturity and prudence. It was a question of minor injury versus major injury. From my experience I know, had the police touched even one lawyer that day, all the lawyers would have ganged up and more violence would have taken place.
In 1988, you had ordered a lathicharge on lawyers in Tis Hazari Courts…
The lathicharge was in a different situation. It was in a narrow space, so because of physical proximity, the matter led to a scuffle and a lathicharge. Here, it was open space, police had the choice of escalating it or not.
What have your personal experiences with lawyers been?
Showing the law book to unionised lawyers for violations they commit, least of all arresting them, is like putting your hand in a hornets’ nest. You will be stung several times over. And almost left to yourself to deal with its fallout for the rest of your career, if not your life.
In I Dare, you wrote of a ‘nerve-wracking’ time after arresting a lawyer.
Indeed. It was like going through fire! What started with handcuffing of a lawyer who committed theft in St Stephen’s College… went on snowballing… for almost a decade of protracted legal battle impacting my career… No one was willing to appear for me… till the SC intervened and K T S Tulsi agreed… Later I faced a hostile commission of enquiry… I as a former tennis player was used to playing a three-set match. With the then legal fraternity I played a nine-set match.
In the current case, do you feel the Centre has acted as it should have?
This is a police matter turned highly political… What has Centre or state to do with it? Police responded to an FIR by a MP… Allegations made out a case of seditious behaviour. Police registered the case, collected evidence, arrested an accused who happened to be a union president… Matters got heated when the university got visited by politicians making provocative statements and these getting widely televised…