A group of lawyers issued a letter to the Commissioner of Police requesting for ensuring the Fundamental Right of Access to Counsel and compliance with Section 41-D of the Cr.PC. The letter condemns the assault of lawyers by police personnel at police stations across the city of Delhi. It also highlights the failure of the police to adhere to basic guidelines of law and propriety whilst dealing with detainees and the lawyers.
The letter comes at the heels of the attack faced by advocates at the Jagatpuri Police Station in New Delhi and calls upon the Commissioner of Police to "take strict actions against the police officers" embroiled in the incident. It is stated that the lawyers were only allowed to gain access to the Police Station after moving the Duty Magistrate at 1 AM in the morning of 27th February.
Resistance faced by lawyers on 28th February at Dayalpur Police Station has also been referred to despite orders of a competent court under Section 41-D CrPC, wherein persons had been detained for several days without being produced before a court within 24 hours.
The resistance commenced place on 26th February wherein multiple advocates belonging to Indian Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Law Network and others, had gone to the Jagatpuri PS to meet persons who had been detained from the protest site at Khureji. It has been reported that not only were the advocates not allowed to meet the detainees, but they, including females, were handled by male police officers.
"We write this letter as an expression of our grave concern and deep anguish at the present state of affairs in which the fundamental right of access to legal counsel, the cornerstone of our Constitutional promise to ensure justice for all, is being willfully eviscerated by the State. The Constitutional promise does not stop at the doors of the police station, but binds all officials inside and commands their respect."
The letter also highlights the non-cooperating behavior of police personnel and their lack of adherence to the principles laid down in the 1997 case of DK Basu v. State of West Bengal. The letter goes on to condemn the prevention of legal and medical facilities being provided to the detainees, despite repeated orders of jurisdictional magistrates and thereby, disallowing the advocates to discharge their duties.
"It is further crucial to nore that several of the detained persons at both PS Jagatpuri and PS Dayalpur were severely bruised and injured and had not received any medical care during the period of their illegal incarceration. Their family members were not informed of their detention/arrest and no complaints made by family members of missing persons were registered. These brazen violations are yet more alarming in the current context, as families in distress have no other way of ascertaining whether their relatives have fallen victim to the recent violence", said the letter sent by Advocates Seem Misra, Sowjhanya Shankaran and Nitika Khaitan.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Kumar Gautam of Karkardooma had sought a report from the police on a complaint made by the lawyers that police was denying detainees access to lawyers.
The letter concludes by echoing the appeal made by the Supreme Court Bar Association for issuance of instructions to the officers to not interfere with advocates whilst they discharge their obligations as per the Code of Criminal Procedure and the law laid down by the highest courts of the land.