The Delhi High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of a recent attack on three Advocates- Mr. Kirti Uppal, Mr. Ravi Sharma and Mr. Vikas Pahwa- which had prompted the Delhi High Court Bar Association to abstain from work on 25 January.
In an order passed on 29 January, a Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar expressed dismay and concern over the "startling and extremely worrisome state of affairs", observing, "We note with extreme concern the indication in the sequence and design of the crimes that a concerted effort may be underway to deter the members of the Bar Association as well as its leaders from discharging their professional duties and threatening them into withholding their support to the cause of justice."
The Court made reference to two resolutions passed by the Association, wherein it had noted with distress an attack on Mr. Sharma, when two of his vehicles parked in the courtyard of his house were burned. The attacks on the three Advocates, the resolutions had hinted, were due to the support rendered by the three Advocates to the cause of a lady Advocate. The Court further noted that even though more than four weeks have passed since the attacks, no steps have been taken by the Police despite registration of an FIR.
Taking serious note of the existing state of affairs, the Bench observed, "The incidents certainly deserved priority attention, especially given the seriousness of the crime which could have caused even more serious damage to property and even loss of life...
...It is a matter of deep pain that such serious incidents involving the leaders of the Bar Association and advocates is being treated with such lack of seriousness. If this is the plight of the leaders of the Bar in Delhi, we shudder to imagine what may be the plight of a common man who face violence on the streets in Delhi."
The Court asserted that since the attacks seemed to have been perpetuated to deter the Advocates from rendering legal assistance to a party, it would amount to criminal contempt of court. It explained, " Any attempt to subvert investigation or aid criminals is not only a penal offence but could invite strict action even against the concerned police under the Contempt of Court Act as well".
It therefore called for a status report on the investigation into the three incidents and directed them to be filed under the signatures of Special Commissioner of Police (Law & Order) after the same has been shown to and approved by the Commissioner of the Delhi Police.
The Court further appointed Senior Advocate Dayan Krishnan as the amicus curiae and directed Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal to assist Mr. Krishnan.