OPINION | Saddens Me That These Criminal Elements, Who Put Legal Fraternity to Shame, are Roaming Free
The policemen will surely face criminal proceedings as well as departmental inquiry for “misconduct” or “dereliction of duty”. Why shouldn’t the lawyers too face legal action in a similar manner? Are they above law?
Personnel of Delhi Police protest at the police headquarters at ITO on Tuesday. (News18)
I am not calling the recent clash between some lawyers and police personnel in Delhi as “police versus lawyers” for the simple reason that we are not two different, antagonistic groups. On the contrary, both police and lawyers together form a team known as the “criminal justice system”, which includes the judiciary as well. Investigation and prosecution ought to be on the same side.
The visuals of lawyers assaulting innocent policemen in uniform, on duty, leave a lot to ponder. I do not have words to express my anguish and sadness. Yes, I am angry and sad too. I am angry that the poor policemen who were simply doing their job were mercilessly beaten up and they were helpless in front of an unruly, uncontrolled, riotous mob. Many of my brothers have got grievous injuries. I am angry at the silence of the seniors. I am angry because, apparently, the police were not given opportunity to represent their grievances properly and equally. I am angry that a lady officer was manhandled and abused and the PSO/gunman was assaulted till he became unconscious, and the “advocates” of law didn’t just stop there. The unconscious body was continuously thrashed till the very soul of humanity was ashamed. Who does that?
And, what was the fault of innocent media persons, journalists and bystanders? Why were they attacked? This kind of mob frenzy is rare, even among fanatic zealots. This shows that the lawyers do not respect or fear the very law which they are supposed to “advocate” daily.
I am equally sad that somehow, we, the people of India, have not learnt to respect the uniform. Many times on Republic Day, or Independence Day, or Martyrs’ Day we send messages and photographs thanking and saluting the brave hearts and then we forget it. It’s in vogue to display some patriotic photograph as one’s social media profile picture, but when it comes to real life, there are only a handful of us who actually mean it. I am sad that my own brothers in arms are in hospital fighting pain, fear of suspension, criminal case and backlash from the department. Today, I feel as if my uniform has suddenly become very heavy.
Whatever has happened should not have occurred. There is no need to say this at this point, but even then, for the sake of informing everyone I’ll mention it. The events are not just unfortunate but are a blot on the national capital also. It has brought shame to India in the international media as well. Delhi always has the focus of international journalists. We can imagine how good it would have been for the image of “Incredible India”. Absolutely incredible!
Police also would have committed mistakes. Of course, no institution is perfect. Being the uniformed service, entrusted with the responsibility of enforcing the law, police ought to be a role model. It is no secret that a lot is still wanting from us. Similarly, our brethren in black coats are also supposed to help the poor, needy and victims of injustice in their fight to get righteous justice. The standard of law colleges which produce degrees like a Xerox machine must also be questioned. Is LLB not a professional course? If yes, then what kind of professionalism was displayed by the lawyers in Delhi’s courts? After seeing the videos, one can easily perceive the criminality in it. There is no requirement of police training or a law degree to identify the offenders and victims. The police could have easily resorted to mass violence and use of lethal and non-lethal means. There is no dearth of these in police departments, at least not in Delhi. But they didn’t. Instead they kept on tolerating the pain, the humiliation. I think our uniform stopped us from taking law in our own hands.
It saddens me that these criminal elements, who have put the entire legal fraternity to shame, are still roaming free. They dare the entire judicial, democratic theatre with impunity. No one in the authority has even said that their licences must be suspended. The policemen will surely face criminal proceedings as well as departmental inquiry for “misconduct” or “dereliction of duty”. Why shouldn’t the lawyers too face legal action in a similar manner? Are they above law?
My only appeal to the entire judicial system of India is to kindly give a fair deal to the police also. Anyone who is guilty shall be punished but this punishment should be an output of the well-established due process of law, as well as the rule of law. It should be unbiased and fair. It should be an example to follow. Finally, it should restore the respect of the judicial system in the eyes of the people of India because if the police itself cannot get justice then public will stop trusting the system altogether.
My father, who was a judge, my brother, who is a practising advocate, and I, a serving police officer, are eagerly and hopefully waiting for a judgement which will make us smile again. Jai Hind!
(The author is a 2011-batch IPS officer. Views are personal.)
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