The Home Ministry on Tuesday stepped in to defuse the brewing crisis over the rare protest by police personnel in the national capital with a request to the Delhi High Court to clarify its Sunday order that stopped the police from arresting lawyers.
The government’s request for a clarification from the high court came against the backdrop of hundreds of police personnel squatting on one of the busiest roads in national capital Delhi to seek what they described as justice for policemen assaulted by lawyers over the past week.
The high court has asked the bar associations and bar council to respond to the Centre’s notice and tell their members to exercise restraint.
Also Watch: After clash with lawyers, cops hold protest outside Delhi police headquarters
On Saturday, the police and lawyers were involved in a violent clash at Tis Hazari court following a parking dispute. The high court, which ordered suspension of two senior officers and suspension of two subordinates for the clash, had also directed the police not to take coercive steps against the lawyers.
The home ministry’s clarification asked if this bar on “coercive action” stops police from arresting lawyers involved in subsequent events also.
There had been many incidents of policemen being allegedly beaten up by lawyers on Monday, the first day of a lawyers’ strike over their clash with the police. A video showed a constable in uniform being repeatedly slapped and elbowed by lawyers outside the Saket court. All that the policeman could do was escape on his motorcycle.
This widely circulated video provoked outrage with senior police officers wondering on social media if the policemen weren’t human, or have a family. But no action was taken against the lawyers seen in the video clip by the Delhi Police brass.
The protest, which started out with a few dozen policemen standing outside the police headquarters in the heart of the national capital, accused the police leadership for failing to stand for them after the lawyer-police clash.
An appeal by the Commissioner of Police Amulya Patnaik a few hours into the protest has been ignored. “These are testing times,” Patnaik said repeatedly in his five-minute speech. Other top officers also made similar appeals and listed the action taken on some of their grievances.
By evening, families of police personnel took out a candle march at India Gate and started receiving word of support from police associations in other parts of the country.
Devendra Srivastava, one of the senior officers who reported the action taken by the authorities on demands of police personnel, later told them that they had registered FIR under “all possible sections” in the assault cases and urged them to head back home. That appeal went unheeded too with the police personnel demanding the right to form a union or association, which is prohibited by law.