The role of Police officers and lawyers is intricately related and to an extent, it is a mutual relationship- if both coordinates with each other then it is beneficial for the society and if there is a constrained relation then it comes with no good. The duty of police officers is to uphold the law, make an arrest, and investigate crime among others. And the lawyers have a duty to represent people in the court of law. A lawyer knows the Law of the land and this is the reason that differentiates them from other people in society.
In India, there is a conception of fear among the public concerning police officers, who have so much power and lathis to control things. But a peculiar change arises when the lawyers and police officers come in picture together. On a detailed analysis of the history of conflict and applicability of law in this regard, it can be ascertained that Lawyers always have an upper hand with regards to conflict and their conclusion. In this article the author tries to reason as well as check the past track record as to how and why police officers fear lawyers.
Concept of ‘Istagaasha’
For a normal person to file a criminal complaint the first option would be to register an FIR in the concerned police station. But when conflict arises between police and lawyer or there is a case of police atrocity on lawyers, it is a bitter truth that police fraternity will refrain from registering FIR against their own people and would make the task as hard as possible.
Under the Code of Criminal procedure, there are two provisions to file a police complaint. One is by the above-mentioned method of F.I.R and the other one is by an application or istagaasha to the judicial magistrate. The possible outcome scenario changes here as now the ball is in the court of Lawyers arena that is court. From a practical standpoint, it can be said that a judicial magistrate is more inclined towards the lawyer’s application as they belong to the same fraternity. It is a common conception that whom you see daily is more favored upon some police officer. Therefore at this juncture, a sword is hanging on the police officer as he may be charged under offenses of IPC and other serious concerns. In short, it can lead to a ruined career as a summons under section 204 of CrPC can be initiated and a criminal trial can be initiated.
This shows, how the legal knowledge and there good relations with the judiciary, as they belong to the same fraternity, are used by lawyers to cover as much ground possible against the police officers. This fact is strengthened on seeing the past record and outcome of Conflict between Police officers and Lawyers.
Past Track Record
2019- Tis Hazari Case
This is one of the most recent and clear indicators of how Lawyers are at the upper hand. The whole conflict started over parking issues and ended up becoming national news Almost 20 police officers and some lawyers were injured in the incident. This was followed by protests from both sides as 100’s of protesting lawyers gathered at the Rohini district court in the subsequent days demanding justice for the injured in Tis Hazari incident. Two days later a policeman was beaten up by lawyers out Saket Court. Similarly, thousands of police officers, some in uniforms and others wearing casual clothes, stormed the Delhi police headquarters along with their family members, they wanted their demands to be readdressed.
The outcome of the Conflict
- The High court took suo-moto cognizance of the matter based on media reports The lawyers were able to have an urgent hearing on Sunday.
- The court directed that no FIR will be filed against the involved lawyers. Further, they will also get the best treatment which is to be ensured by the government.
- Harsh action against the involved police officer as it directed the commissioner to take actions against the two ASI involved.
This is not the first instance of conflict in Tis Hazari, In 1980 when lathi charge was initiated by Kiran Bedi (Former IPS) when a protest was conducted by lawyers.
2016 – JNU case
During the bail proceeding of Kaniya Kumar (JNU student’s Union President), such rash behavior were seen by the lawyers as one group of young lawyers was reportedly involved in violence with JNU Student Union’s supporters and even journalist At the point no action was taken up by the police and they were the mute spectator.
2015- Allahabad High court
When an undertrial accused tried to escape forcing the police officer to open fire. But unfortunately, the bullet hit a lawyer also resulted in a riot-like situation in which several police officers were injured.
2009- Allahabad High court
The severe misconduct by lawyers was witnessed, when they attacked Subramanian Swami with eggs. Asa consequence of this when the police tried to arrest those lawyers a clash broke out.
Several other cases of this nature are reported all around India, in which lawyers are found clashing with the police. In all the above-mentioned incidents the lawyers had an upper hand showing their unruly behavior in any way they want.
The problem faced by the officers of both these fields can be resolved if there is a proper chain of command and the superior officers have a leadership figure. These situations can be pacified if the senior officer or the IPS associations collaborate in talks with the Bar Council of India. Because at the end of the day, it is the police that protects common man and are first in the line of defense for the people of India. It is not good that they feel threatened by lawyers and disheartened by their senior officer’s lack of leadership. Every time such a conflict arises a lower ranking police officer is the scapegoat. Most of the time after the decision of district court, the senior officers don’t support the aggrieved police officer, even an application in the high court is not filed.
It is high time for India to give due respect and honour to police and to talk care that a mutually beneficial relation develops between police and lawyers. As both these fields are important or one can say pillars of the criminal justice system and harmony between the two is of utmost importance to the benefit of society.
This article has been written by Arpit Jahnwar, a second-year student at Symbiosis Law School Pune.
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