The report of the lawyers’ committee — appointed by the Supreme Court to look into the incident of violence by lawyers at the Patiala House Courts Complex on February 17 — states that the atmosphere in the premises was “surcharging, threatening and frightening, and police had completely failed in their duty to contain the atmosphere and crowd”.
The report was filed by the committee comprising senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Rajiv Dhawan, A K Sinha, Dushyant Dave, Harin Raval and A D N Rao. It narrates the experiences of the committee and concludes that though a large number of police personnel had been deployed at the court premises, “they could not contain the other lawyers present in large numbers to intimidate one and all”.
On the allegations that JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar had been assaulted inside the court, the lawyers report states that two unidentified persons – who should not have been allowed to enter the court room – had in fact been present. One of them had been identified by Kanhaiya as the man who allegedly assaulted him.
The report adds that police officers present at the spot failed to answer how the two men had been allowed to enter the premises even though the Supreme Court had given directions to restrict entry of unauthorised persons.
According to the report, the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court had asked New Delhi DCP Jatin Narwal to “arrest” the man identified by Kanhaiya. The DCP along with “10-12 other policemen” were present in the courtroom when the man was identified by Kumar, and “chased the man”after the registrar general asked him to arrest the alleged assaulter.
The report also names three other police officers, including two SHOs, as being present in the court room when the man was allegedly identified. Further, the report states the officers of the south and the New Delhi district had both denied responsibility for allowing the unidentified man inside the courtroom. “This appears to be a clear attempt to pass on the burden to one another,” noted the report.
“It is a fact and rather unbelievable that the said man was not arrested despite the DCP chasing the man in the presence of so many police personnel,” stated the report.
It also claims there was “an instigation to intimidate the committee members” and “create an atmosphere of fear and terror”. Considering the threat to the senior lawyers themselves, they were escorted out of the court premises by a “ring of police personnel” who also came under attack from the mob of lawyers and other persons.
“There was continuous slogan-raising, shouting, hurling of abuses and stones, broken flower pots and plastic bottles thrown at the committee members”. Senior Advocate Harin Raval also recorded the incident, which are being kept out of the public domain. The report also Raval sent the clips via WhatsApp to his colleagues fearing that the mob would attack him and snatch away his phone.
Reports filed before the Supreme Court on the “incident” last week at Patiala House points fingers at “conscious inaction” by the Delhi Police, with even the police report admitting that a “conscious decision was taken to go in for minimum collateral damage”.
The report, signed by Joint Commissioner M K Meena, indicates that over 700 security personnel had been deployed at the court on February 17, but they were “asked to exercise restrain till the situation warranted retributive action”.
Despite the huge police presence, 10 police personnel suffered injuries during the incident.
With lawyers at the forefront of the assault, the Bar Council of India in its reply to the SC has taken a stand protecting the lawyers.
“While condemning the attack on media personnel by a ‘section of lawyers’, the BCI resolution of February 21 says ‘any true citizen or a lawyer of India is supposed to strongly react to slogans like Pakistan Zindabad Hindustan Murdabad…”
However, the BCI clarified that any “response” should have been in a “decent and legal manner” and that “savers of law are not expected to take law into their own hands”.
The BCI has constituted a three-member committee to look into the incidents of February 15 and 17. The report is expected to be submitted in three weeks.