New Delhi, Nov 3 : More than 20 policemen, one Additional DCP, two SHOs and eight lawyers were injured in a clash between the Delhi Police and lawyers at the Tis Hazari court complex on Saturday.
The lawyers also announced an indefinite strike starting Monday in all district courts, demanding action against the policemen involved in the firing incident during the clash, which left one lawyer injured.
According to an advocate, the scuffle started after a lawyer parked his vehicle outside a lock-up used to keep criminals.
He was “rudely” told by some police constables to remove it but he insisted on parking his car there as he had an “important hearing,” the advocate told IANS.
Some other advocates, who were eyewitnesses to the incident, told IANS that the policemen then took the advocate to the police lock-up.
This escalated the situation as other advocates objected to this and ended up damaging police vehicles present at the spot.
The angry lawyers set more than 20 police vehicles on fire, including a Gypsy of the Delhi Police Control Room (PCR) and a prison vehicle.
The Delhi Police Commissioner has formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter. The SIT will be headed by a Special Commissioner level officer.
While talking to IANS, former Delhi High Court judge Justice S.N. Dhingra mentioned a similar clash between the police and the lawyers which took place on February 17, 1988, when Kiran Bedi was the Commissioner of Delhi Police.
“All lawyers in India consider themselves equivalent to law, judge and court. Most of them think that law works because of them, an not because of the judges, courts or the Constitution. This is not the reality. The country and judiciary works when all these factors combine together,” Justice Dhingra told IANS.
He said: “After the clash in 1988, the lawyers stalled the courts just to show their power but my courtroom continued to function and I kept on passing judgements.”
“I was handling the matrimonial court that time. I was giving judgements during that time when I got to know that the lawyers were protesting against the lathicharge order given by Kiran Bedi,” he said.
He also told IANS how he tackled the situation. He said, “The lawyers wanted that I should also stop my court proceedings which was not possible till I was in the judicial service. When the lawyers came to me, I told them clearly that they were on strike, not the court, and I continued with the proceedings.”
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (North Delhi) Harendra Singh said, “The police acted wisely during the adverse circumstances. We were looking to protect the prisoners and the lawyers present at the spot and we were successful up to some extent in doing so.”
The Delhi Police headquarters also released an official statement on the matter. The statement said that the main reason behind the scuffle between the police and the lawyers was due to the heated discussion between a lawyer and an armed police personnel over car parking.
The spokesperson of Delhi Police, Anil Mittal, said, “Some lawyers were parking their cars in front of the lock-up. The police asked them not to do so as it would create an obstacle. The CCTV footage also shows that the lawyers tried to enter the lock-up forcefully.
“The police tried to explain to them but they continued to misbehave. They set police vehicles on fire. When things went out of control, the police personnel protecting the undertrials fired in the air.”
According to the statement released by the police headquarters, 20 policemen, includng one DCP and two SHOs, were injured in the clash along with eight lawyers. Twelve motorcyles, a Gypsy of the Quick Reaction Team, and eight jail vehicles were also damaged. All these vehicles were set on fire.
When the undertrials started to choke due to the smoke, they were removed from the spot by forming a human chain and were shifted to Tihar jail.