Lawyers and police clashed at the Tis Hazari Court complex here on Saturday (November 2) during which at least 20 police personnel and several lawyers were injured while many vehicles vandalised or set on fire, according to officials.
The complex turned into a virtual battleground after an argument between advocates and police over parking turned violent.
Two station house officers (SHOs) and an additional commissioner were among the 20 personnel injured, police said and claimed that eight lawyers were hurt in the incident.Lawyers, however, said more of their colleagues were injured than the number claimed by police.
They also claimed that two advocates were injured in police firing, but police said they fired in the air.
Twelve motorcycles and nine police vehicles, including one of the Uttar Pradesh Police, were vandalised, officials said.
Both parties have lodged complaints and the cases will be probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Crime Branch.
The team will be headed by a special commissioner and based on its findings, further action will be taken. CCTV footage is being examined to ascertain the sequence of events, police said.
Bar associations condemned the incident and called a one-day strike across all district courts in the national capital on November 4.
The argument between advocates and a sentry of the polices third battalion, posted outside a lockup of the Tis Hazari Court, broke out around 2 pm on Saturday over parking of a lawyer’s car.
The advocates claimed that the lawyer’s car had allegedly hit a jail van and he was taken inside a lockup.
“He was taken inside a lockup and beaten up badly. The SHO came but was not allowed inside. The district judges of the central and west district, along with six other judges went there but were unable to let the lawyer out,” Tis Hazari Bar Association secretary Jaiveer Singh Chauhan told PTI.
Police said the sentry had requested the advocate to park the vehicle at a demarcated zone as his car was hindering movement of prisoner vehicles.
“In protest a large number of advocates of the Tis Hazari Court assembled near the lockup. CCTV footage examined so far has shown that lawyers forcefully entered the lockup and started manhandling police officials,” additional PRO of the Delhi Police Anil Mittal said.
Senior officers reached the spot and tried to pacify the advocates, but they started assaulting them. They also set fire to some police vehicles, police said, adding that North districts ACP Harinder Kumar and SHOs of Kotwali and Civil Lines were among the injured.
“When they stormed the police lockup, for the safety of undertrial prisoners and in self-defence, police had to resort to firing aiming in the air. The circumstances of the gunshot injury to the lawyer are being investigated with the help of a forensic team,” Mittal said.
Jaiveer Chauhan has claimed that police fired four rounds while lawyers were leaving the spot and Ranjeet Singh Malik suffered a bullet injury. The injured lawyers were admitted to the St. Stephens hospital, he said.
Other lawyers said that their colleague Vijay Verma also suffered a bullet injury.
“The police manhandled the lawyers. This was an incident of complete negligence by police,” Chauhan said and claimed that the lawyer was released from lockup after about 30 minutes.
Lawyers earlier sat on a protest at the gate of the court premises, demanding action against those responsible.
Chairman of the Delhi Bar Council KC Mittal, said, “We strongly condemn the brutal and unprovoked attack on lawyers by police at Tis Hazari Court.”
“One lawyer is critical. A young lawyer was beaten in lockup, a high-handedness of the police. They should be dismissed and prosecuted. We stand with Delhi lawyers,” he said
Delhi Congress chief Subhash Chopra visited the court complex along with party members and called for action against the personnel involved in the clash.
Assam Bar Council member Khushboo Verma, who was at the court, alleged that she was attacked by policemen while protesting against the incident.
“There were no women police personnel present,” she claimed.
Lawyer Preety Tiwari claimed that a bullet passed her ear when she was protesting.
Police said the situation is now under control and the undertrials who were stuck inside the court premises due to the clash were taken back to their respective prisons.