The Telegraph
Thursday , June 5 , 2014
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Lawyer woe after resolution
- Advocates asked not to take up cases against bar members

Darjeeling, June 4: Two youths, who were arrested for allegedly thrashing a lawyer’s relative last month, could not get a counsel for around 18 hours, a situation believed to have been prompted by a Darjeeling Bar Association resolution that says the members would not take up cases against other members or their families.

The resolution adopted on June 13, 2013, and signed by 54 members of the Darjeeling bar does not prohibit a lawyer from the association from taking up cases against other members. It says lawyers’ refusal to take up such matters “should be more on the principles of conscience than of imposition”.

The resolution came to the limelight after an 18-year-old boy, a relative of a lawyer, was allegedly beaten up.

According to a complaint filed by a woman with Darjeeling Sadar police, the boy teased her on Ladenla Road around 6.30pm on May 26. “He tried to assault me and used vulgar language. When my uncle Phurba Lama Sherpa came to my rescue, he was assaulted. My 80-year-old uncle is a heart patient and has been hospitalised,” said her complaint.

The boy is the nephew of Priya Pandit, a member of the Darjeeling Bar Association.

The same day, Pandit filed another complaint with Darjeeling Sadar police saying the woman’s husband and one Lakpa Sherpa passed comments at her and the 18-year-old. “When the boy objected, he was assaulted with helmet and iron rods. He had to be hospitalised,” she said.

Lakpa and the other accused were arrested that day. “We did not get a lawyer. At the last moment, Amar Lama agreed to defend them,” said the woman who had complained against the boy adding 30-35 lawyers had already agreed to defend the boy. Lakpa and the other accused were taken into custody around 8pm on May 26 and produced in the chief judicial magistrate’s court at 11am the next day. There are 141 lawyers at Darjeeling courts but not all are present at a time. “That so many solicitors thought of representing the lawyer’s relative was because of the resolution,” a lawyer said. Assistant public prosecutor Pankaj Prasad said the duo were remanded in judicial custody for two days. “At the next hearing, the judge granted bail,” he said.

Seshmani Gurung, vice-president of the bar association, said: “We have acted like any other association. When something happens to a member everyone stands by him.”