A lot of brouhaha has been witnessed ever since BJP veteran leader LK Advani’s views have come to forefront wherein he has expressed fears of India moving towards another emergency. While some maintain that roots of democracy have now got deeply embedded in Indian system and it will be impossible for anybody to usher in another era of emergency, there are several others who see sense in what Advani is talking about and express fears that we are already moving towards that direction.
The signs are ominous. And it is feared that we are being slowly led towards becoming a police state, with utter disregard to law, and the law enforcing agencies themselves have begun to act in an arbitrary manner.
Latest case in point is an attack on senior lawyer Mahmood Pracha by members of ATS in Rajasthan. The lawyer, who is appearing on behalf of people accused of various acts of terror or rioting all across India and are languishing in jails owing to lack of proper legal guidance, had filed a discharge application in Jaipur High Court in the case of few men accused by ATS in 2013 of terror related cases. District and Sessions Court in Jaipur was hearing arguments about the framing of charges. After arguments in the Sessions Court, as Mahmood Pracha came out of the Court, an ATS personnel confronted him and threatened to kill him if he ever came back to argue the case.
Says Mahmood Pracha: “The commotion at the doorsteps of the Court was heard by the Hon’ble Judge as well. There were several law students who had come to witness the proceedings who got terrified upon seeing the attack on me. The judge later called me in his chamber where I brought to his knowledge exactly what had happened.” Later, Pracha submitted a written complaint to District and Sessions Judge Dinesh Chand Somani. Rajasthan ATS says the judge, in whose presence the incident took place, has ordered a probe.
Pracha says: “A lawyer is an officer of Court. He assists the court in its attempt to reach a conclusion before passing his verdict. Attack on a lawyer is an attack on the judicial system of India.” Pracha calls this as an attack on the fundamental rights of lawyers and is of opinion that such attacks will continue unless courts become stricter and take suo motto action.
Senior lawyer Abubakar Sabaq defends Pracha by saying: “This is not something new but the failure of the courts to take action against the law enforcing agencies in similar cases in the past has emboldened them further. The defence of hundreds of Muslims prosecuted by the police for rioting or terror-related charges has become a big problem. If some Muslim lawyers have come forward to defend Muslims, they have been physically intimidated and at times even killed. In 2010 a Muslim lawyer in Mumbai who defended and was defending successfully many accused of so-called terror attacks had been gunned down. Several attacks on lawyers fighting such cases have come to light in Ujjain, Mumbai, Pathankot and Jaipur during last 10-12 years.”
Abubakar Sabaq tells the reason why such incidents are recurring frequently. “Mostly the cases are framed in hurry with the objective of getting out of turn promotions. They don’t have evidences. When they fear their deeds will get exposed, and the courts will reprimand them for framing the innocents, then they try to intimidate the lawyers doing their work with sincerity, harass them and resort to wrong tactics. This has not happened for the first time.”
Adds Sabaq: “This is a rampant problem but for the first time it has happened that somebody has tried to intimidate a lawyer right inside the court premises. Court should take strict action so that such incidents do not recur in future.”
Pracha fears if such incidents are not stopped, India might as well become a police state. “We should not hand India in the hands of police. Independence of judiciary should be respected. How can they force an officer of court to abstain from handling a case? Will we be shot for doing the work of law?”
Pracha is of opinion that while honest officers have been posted in the Police Lines, corrupt officers are given important postings. They at times instigate gang wars and even accuse people of grave charges for promotions. Catching the innocent for award-reward and promotion should stop. There are so many cases where those who languished in jails for several years were acquitted of crime by courts. Merely acquitting them of the crime and releasing them from prison is not justice. Not only should they be given adequate compensation but those who are guilty of falsely accusing them should also be brought to justice. Then only justice will be delivered!