NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court clarified on Wednesday that its stay on arrest or other coercive steps against lawyers was limited to the Tis Hazari clash while allowing a plea by the Union home ministry (MHA) in this regard.
The MHA had sought to know if the court’s Sunday order saying “no coercive steps against advocates” was a blanket ban or confined to just Saturday’s police-lawyer clashes. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and justice C Hari Shankar also called for a joint meeting of “responsible representatives of advocates and the police establishment… who should make a sincere effort to sort out their differences amicably”.
After hearing arguments in a courtroom bursting at the seams with around 1,000 lawyers in attendance, HC allowed MHA’s plea and noted, “We hereby clarify that observations made in para 15(ix) that no coercive action shall be taken is only in pursuance of FIR Nos. 268/2019 and 269/2019, both dated November 2, 2019.”
High court also dealt with another application moved by Delhi Police seeking deletion of certain observations by the court in the Sunday order, where it detailed the roles played by each cop in dragging a lawyer, firing at them and subsequent lathicharge on November 2.
The petition urged the court to remove the paragraphs since these could be interpreted as “conclusive findings” against them in any investigation. However, the high court allayed these fears and noted that the observations were “prima facie” and “tentative” in nature and were “only to be read in the context of the order dated November 3, 2019.”
It also clarified that facts about the role of policemen and lawyers is something that needs to be proved “on the basis of the evidences on record” in the ongoing judicial inquiries. Disposing of the applications, the court expressed anguish over the “dissonance and friction” between the bar and the police, reminding the stakeholders that they represent “the preserver and the protector of the rule of law”.
The bench said that police and lawyers “are but two faces of the coin of justice, and it is essential, for the rule of law to prevail, that they work in close proximity and harmony. Any dissonance, or friction, between them, is deleterious to peace and harmony, and destructive of public interest, in the long run.”
It asked both the bar and police to “make a sincere effort to meet and sort out their differences amicably, on the basis of discussion and deliberations, with the objective of dissolution of differences, which, in our view, have arisen due to a communication gap during the last few days. We are hopeful that, if a sincere attempt is made in this direction, peace and harmony will ultimately prevail.”
During the hearing, senior advocates Mohit Mathur, Rakesh Khanna and Kirti Uppal as well as Bar Council of India chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and other bar leaders told the court that the applications were being moved to seek orders which could be used to harass the lawyers. “Our leaders would be implicated in cases if these applications are allowed,” they alleged, urging the court to dismiss the plea.

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