Howrah Court Violence: Calcutta HC takes suo motu cognizance
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Howrah Court Violence: Calcutta HC takes suo motu cognizance

Meera Emmanuel

The Calcutta High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the Howrah Court violence that had prompted lawyers of the West Bengal Bar Council to abstain from judicial work as a mark of protest last week.

An order to this effect passed today by the Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan and Arijit Banerjee states,

“Having regard to the different aspects and issues which may be relevant for consideration in larger public interest and for protecting the premises of Courts and to ensure that due process in terms of the Constitution and the laws are obeyed and enforced in relation to the incident at Howrah, this matter is ordered to be registered as a writ petition taken up suo moto in exercise of authority under Article 226 of the Constitution and the supervisory jurisdiction of this Court under Article 227 of the Constitution of India. This will stand registered and notice is hereby ordered to be issued to the authorities listed in the cause title.”

The matter is scheduled to be taken up by the High Court next on May 1.

In the meanwhile, the Court has directed that the smooth functioning of the Howrah Court should not be disrupted. To this end, the order states,

“...the High Court on the Administrative Side, at the appropriate level, will carry out requisite exercise to ensure that judicial functioning of the Courts at Howrah is smoothly carried out. For this purpose the organizations of the Advocates, including the Bar Council of West Bengal and other requisite stake-holders, may extend such cooperation as the High Court may require and call for. It is clarified that the pendency of this Writ Petition on the Judicial Side will not, in any manner, stand in the way of any action that the High Court may take on the Administrative Side.”

The order was passed after perusing reports on the Howrah Court violence filed by the District Judge, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, and the Commissioner of Police.

In the meanwhile, following a joint meeting of five Bar Associations, it has been communicated that the Court’s advocates have decided to continue abstaining from work until May 2.

On May 2, a general body meeting is to be convened to decide on the “further course of action.” A representation to this effect was addressed to the Chief Justice of the City Sessions and Metropolitan Magistrates Court (CMM) today by the CMM Bar Association Secretary.

In protest over the “atrocities of the police” at the Howrah Court on April 24, the State Bar Council had resolved last week to abstain from work until April 29.

The Bar Council had demanded the arrest of the accused police personnel who allegedly “brutally tortured/assaulted” advocates, judicial officers, staff, and clerks of the Howrah Court. Action is also sought against the ransacking of the Bar library, several courtrooms, and shops at the Howrah Court.

The alleged incident took place after an altercation over parking between an elderly lawyer and a guard of the Howrah Municipal Corporation (HMC) on the morning of April 24. Several lawyers gathered on the spot to confront the civic guard, who had allegedly insulted their elderly colleague, leading to the escalation of the altercation.

A number of civic employees are reported to have attacked the lawyers with sticks and rods. The lawyers are said to have retaliated by pelting the civic staff with stones. Many two-wheelers parked on the HMC premises were damaged.

After the police failed to contain the situation, the Rapid Action Force was deployed. When tensions between the two groups flared up again in the evening, police and RAF resorted to lathicharge, leaving at least 20 injured. The police have initiated two cases based on a complaint and a counter-complaint, reported The Telegraph

On April 24 itself, the Criminal Court Bar Library swung into action against the incident. It was unanimously resolved that no member of the Bar will take part in any judicial proceedings on and from April 25.

Read the Order:

Calcutta-HC-Howrah-Court-violence-Order-April-29-2019.pdf
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Read the Bar Association representation to the CMM Chief Justice:

howrah-court-violence-Bar-Assn-letter.pdf
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