Puducherry Lt. Governor Kiran Bedi on Tuesday advised Delhi Police to remain firm on its stand on Saturday’s police-lawyers clash at Tis Hazari court come what may.
Reacting to the incident, she told PTI that she faced a similar situation in January 1988 when a lawyer arrested for theft in St. Stephen’s college was brought to the Tis Hazari court in handcuffs.
“But I remained firm and refused to budge to the demand of the lawyers seeking suspension/arrest of the cops responsible for hand cuffing the advocate,” she said, adding that the person did not identify himself as an advocate at the time of his arrest and also gave a different name to the police.
In the present incident too, the “Delhi Police should take a stand and be firm on it come what may”, she said.
Bedi, a former IPS officer of 1972 batch who retired in the rank of DGP, said during the 1988 police-lawyers clashes at Tis Hazari, wherein she was DCP (North) then, there were demands from the advocates associations for her suspension and arrest. But the then police commissioner Ved Marwah strongly supported her and rejected the demands, she said.
It all began on January 15, 1988, when the police arrested the lawyer for theft of a purse of a girl student in St. Stephen’s college. When he was produced before the magistrate at Tis Hazari court with handcuff, the fellow lawyers who identified him took strong objections and demanded his immediate release and action against the cops.
The protests went on for so many days and on Jan.21, 1988, there was a police lathi-charge on the lawyers who tried to gate crash into the office of DCP (North) situated then in the court premises.
The protests continued and on February 17, 1988, a group of about 3,000 outsiders stormed the court premises and attacked the advocates and damaged their vehicles/properties. The lawyers blamed Bedi as being responsible for both the incidents—for ordering baton charge and engineering the attack by outsiders.
In the baton charge, 18 lawyers were injured. While the lawyers accused police of using excessive force against them, Bedi said the lawyers had stormed her office, shouting obscenities and threatening to rip her clothes off, and that the police had used reasonable force in repelling them.
Later, the government set up a commission of inquiry headed by the then Delhi High Court Judge D P Wadhwa to go into the clashes. The commission concluded that the lawyer’s arrest for theft was “justified” but termed his hand-cuffing “illegal”. It also described the subsequent police action as “indiscriminate and unjustified”.