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Lawyers are not above the Law

New Delhi, Fri, 22 Aug 2008 NI Wire

In one of the rare judgments in the annals of Indian judiciary, the Delhi High Court on Thursday debarred two of the noted criminal lawyers R K Anand and I U Khan for obstructing administration of justice by bribing a key witness in the high profile BMW hit-and-run case. The case has certainly divulged the very existence of prosecution-defence nexus and how much our judiciary has plunged into it breaching the common man’s faith.

The High Court has unclothed both the lawyers from their designation as senior advocate for four months besides imposing a fine of Rs 2000. However, the entire lawyer fraternity have different opinion regarding the authority of the Court whether it can cancel the license of a lawyer or not. As some said that it was up to the Bar Council of India to debar a lawyer from practicing.

In this case the court’s judgment seems justified citing the unduly delay by the Bar Council in dispensing the case despite being informed by the “professional misconduct.” Again the High Court has only ‘debarred’ them from appearing before the court and not suspended his licence to practice, as per the apex court’s distinction in both the cases. The Apex Court has clearly drawn a distinction between the suspension licence of an advocate to that of debarring him from appearing before courts. For that reason, there should not be any contradiction of Court’s annex to the jurisdiction of Bar Council. And furthermore the court could have taken some stiffer punishment against the two lawyers.

It is to mention here that the sting operation conducted by a private television news channel last year has exposed both the advocates Anand and Khan as Defence Counsel and Public Prosecutor respectively for asking the key witness Sunil Kulkarni to change his statement in favour of Sanjeev Nanda, accused of running down six people on the Lodhi Road in central Delhi in the wee hours of Jan 10, 1999.

Despite the presence of video evidence that the channel had submitted to the court long back, the accused is now free on bail which very well describes our justice system, and undoubtedly the court here has rightly judged a treacherous trend in our criminal justice system and set a precedence to keep alive the faith on ‘judiciary’ as people are losing confidence in the system due to slow, inefficient and ineffective procedure.

So what the prime issue here is to address the concern topics in our justice system: the witnesses’ turning hostile in a trial, conduct of judges and lawyers, unlawful behaviour of the components of legal judicial system etc. The crucial one as we saw in some recent high-profile cases including the Jessica Lal murder and Best Bakery cases that of the hostile witness. For that we not only have to strengthen our investigating procedure and provide protection to witnesses but should have laws to prevent witness from turning hostile.

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August 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM

It is strange that the lawyers fraternity, claiming to belong to a noble profession are now defending two senior advocates found guilty of using unfair means to protect an affluent accused who was involved in a serious hit and run BMW car accident case. Does it mean that the whole lot of lawyers practicing in Delhi courts by going on en-masse strike in support of two senior erring advocates are above the law and they can hold the entire judiciary to ransom, bringing the normal functioning of the Hon'ble courts to stand-still, inflicting misery and finncial loss to the litigants.?



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