Howrah lawyers seek CBI probe into clash

A day after the clash, the high court had registered a suo motu case to adjudicate on the matter

By Our Legal Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 16.05.19, 2:23 AM
  • Updated 16.05.19, 2:23 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Police fire tear gas shells during the clash on April 24 A Telegraph picture

The Howrah Court Bar Association has sought an order from high court directing the CBI to probe the alleged attack on lawyers and damage of court properties by police on April 24.

“We seek an order from this court asking the CBI to conduct a probe and identify the policemen, who had attacked the judiciary and beat the judicial officers by entering the court premises on April 24,” S.K. Kapoor, the lawyer appearing for the association submitted before the division bench of Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Arindam Mukherjee.

“If the lawyers are attacked on the court premises, it is the duty of the judiciary to provide justice. Who else will protect the lawyers from this type of attack?” Kapoor said.

A day after the clash, the high court had registered a suo motu case to adjudicate on the matter. The division bench headed by Chief Justice T. B. Radhakrishnan had been hearing the case since April 29. Since Justice Radhakrishnan has taken ill, the case has been assigned to the bench headed by Justice Somadder.

Justice Somadder’s division bench heard the case throughout Wednesday. Kapoor’s submission was followed by that of advocate-general Kishore Dutta, who sought to defend the accused policemen.

During the course of the hearing, the bench repeatedly wanted to know whether the cops had entered the court and attacked the lawyers.

In reply, Dutta said four accused police officers had submitted affidavits in the court. “From those affidavits it appears the clash took place on Mahatma Gandhi Road, the road near the court premises,” Dutta said.

On the morning of April 24, clashes had broken out between lawyers of the Howrah district court and employees of the Howrah Municipal Corporation on the road between the two premises over parking rights inside the civic headquarters.

Police stepped in and used sticks and tear gas shells to disperse the warring groups. At least 20 people were injured. The police allegedly raided the court around noon and beat up some lawyers and damaged court properties.

After getting information that lawyers had held a municipal employee hostage, the police visited the court premises in the afternoon to rescue him, an affidavit filed by an accused officer says.

The next day, the West Bengal Bar Council called a ceasework across the state, which is on.

Over 55,000 lawyers across the state have been abstaining from court. “The agitating lawyers are not even allowing the police to produce arrested persons in court. As a result, all jails in the state have become overcrowded,” an official in the state law department said.