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A lawyer was recently constrained to approach the Delhi High Court citing threats to his life for appearing in a criminal case. Taking note of his concern, Justice Brijesh Sethi directed for security officers to be assigned to Advocate Saurabh Kumar Singh in an order passed shortly before the Diwali Break.
The order dated October 24 states,
“Learned counsel for the State further submits that protection required will be provided to the petitioner. Let mobile number of Beat Constable, Division Officer as well as SHO be provided to the petitioner forthwith, so that in case of exigency, petitioner can contact the concerned officials. List on 05.11.2019. In the meanwhile, Let the concerned DCP provide the PSO to the petitioner.”
The matter was taken on an urgent basis by the Delhi High Court on the afternoon of October 24, following a petition filed by Singh. Advocate Anurag Oja appeared for the petitioner (Singh), assisted by Advocates Kanishk Arora, Shivam Malhotra and Srishti Thukral.
The plea highlighted the failure of the police to respond to complaints of criminal intimidation by one, Ram Nivas, an opposing party in a criminal case that was being handled by Advocate Singh.
By way of background, Singh was working under Advocate Sanjay Padam Jain to begin with, who held the brief in a divorce case between Ram Nivas and Rita Devi. In connection with this matter, the plea states that Advocate Padam Jain had also earlier been threatened by Niwas in 2016.
It has been submitted that Advocate Singh’s involvement in handling the case may have incensed Ram Nivas to threaten Singh as well. To intimidate the Singh, Ram Nivas is said to have followed him after his Court work, a fact which was intimated to the jurisdictional police.
Things appear to have escalated on October 1, this year. By this time, Advocate Singh was handling a criminal case lodged by Rita Devi against Ram Nivas in connection with accusations of criminal intimidation and other offences. Following a hearing at a Rohini criminal court, Singh and his client were openly threatened “to count their days of life“, the petition states. The police did not respond to the complaint reported on the incident, the petition states.
The same day, Singh was attacked at around 9 at night by Ram Nivas and four others at Teen Murthy Mandir Road. Distress calls were not attended to promptly by the police, petitioner has submitted. As noted in the petition,
“… the petitioner was brutally assaulted. Petitioner’s friend has made telephonic calls to various people including Police, but no immediate response was forthcoming.”
Objection is further registered to the “diluted” FIR lodged by the police eventually over the incident. Following his discharge from the hospital, Singh filed an application under Section 156 (3) of the CrPC, seeking further action in the case. The Court, in turn, called for the Police report in the matter on October 11.
Ten days later, however, the petitioner states that two unknown persons followed him while he was on the way to the Rohini Court. After accosting him, Singh has submitted that he was threatened with a pistol to withdraw himself from the cases filed against Ram Nivas, lest his life would not be spared.
The petitioner has also submitted that the alleged perpetrator, Ram Nivas, has a criminal history with at least 17 cases having been filed against him under various criminal laws. His client is also stated to have been on police protection since 2016 owing to similar threats.
In these circumstances, the slow response of the police in addressing his complaints led the petitioner to move the Court for relief, also contending that,
“… in the circumstances where a lawyer is assaulted, for holding a brief of his client, and despite clear danger to his life, the reckless behaviors pre and post-incidents shown by the Inspector is not mere “laxity in discharge of official function” but constitutes misfeasance and malfeasance of public office.”
The matter will be taken up next on November 20. The interim protection order passed by the Delhi High Court on October 24 was extended until then, when the matter was taken up on November 5.
[Read the Petition]
[Read the Delhi HC Order dated October 24, 2019]