CAA protests
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Urge BCI to perform its duties in non-partisan manner, Advocates distance themselves from BCI statement on Anti-CAA Protests

In its Resolution, BCI had stated that it stood in solidarity with police and armed forces and urged advocates to convince people to not protest.

Aditi Singh

In an attempt to distance themselves from the Bar Council of India's Resolution on the ongoing protests against the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), a Response to Bar Council of India Resolution dated 22.12.2019 has been floated online to enable advocates to register their dissent.

In its Resolution dated December 22, BCI had stated that it stood in solidarity with police and armed forces and urged advocates to convince people to not protest as the issue of constitutionality of CAA was pending before the Supreme Court.

Clarfying that the BCI Resolution did not speak for all advocates, the Response reads,

"..The BCI ought not to release statements that give the impression that it is doing so on behalf of all advocates as the Resolution does not represent the views of the Bar and certainly not the undersigned advocates. While the individual office bearers of the BCI are free to express their opinions in their personal capacity, the use of the BCI's platform to express the personal views of some is a disservice to the principles that the BCI stands for."

The Response criticizes the BCI's stand on the issue and states,

"Excessive and unnecessary deference to the State is unbecoming of the BCI's standing. When allegations of grave abuse of State power are involved, it is not for the BCI to pass judgment either way."

The Reponse also expresses its concern with respect to the statement calling citizens who are protesting as "illiterate ignorant mass".

"It is also extremely distressing to note that in its Resolution, the BCI has referred to the lakhs of citizens of this country who are exercising their democratic right to protest, out of sheer anguish, as the "illiterate ignorant mass". does not befit the stature of the BCI for such statements to be made."

Hoping that the BCI and the State Bar Councils across the country lend their support to advocates who are working on issues of excessive and disproportionate force against protestors, minors being detained and the widespread use of arbitrary internet shutdowns, the Response adds,

".. it is amiss that the BCI, a body which is supposed to stand up for the Bar, did not deem it fit to express solidarity with advocates such as Mr. Mohammad Shoaib who has been detained in Lucknow or the hundreds of advocates fighting across the country to uphold the rights of citizens as recognised by the Constitution."

The respone stresses on the Fundamental Right to dissent and asserts that as an advocate, one's allegiance is to uphold the values of the Constitution.

"The pendency of the challenge before the Hon'ble Supreme Court does not, in any manner, take away from the right of citizens to exercise their democratic and constitutional right to protest - either against the Act itself or against State excesses relating to the Act."

Strongly deprecating the Resolution, the Response, in conclusion, hopes that the BCI would stand for the rights of members of the Bar in the future and ensure that the freedoms envisioned by the Constitution are upheld.

The Response also urges the BCI to perform its statutory duties in a non-partisan manner and to refrain from expressing opinions that may prove detrimental to the people's faith in the justice system.

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