Lawyers Move Delhi Court Seeking Law For Protection, Safe Work Atmosphere

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In the wake of the killing of an advocate earlier this month, two lawyers have moved the Delhi High Court for directions to the Centre and the city government to enact a law for protection of legal professionals.
Lawyers Deepa Joseph and Alpha Phiris Dayal, in their petition, said there has been an “alarming rise” in incidents of violence inside the court premises in the city and it was “high time now” for a decision to be taken for the enactment of “Advocates Protection Act” to guarantee protection to the fraternity and help remove the fear that has been embedded in their minds.

The petitioners stated their concern about their own safety has been “aggravated by seeing the visuals and video of the cold-blooded murder of an influential and senior member of the Bar” and if “Advocates Protection Act” is not passed in Delhi, audacity of criminals to commit crimes against lawyers will increase.

Advocate Virender Kumar Narwal, 53, was shot dead in southwest Delhi’s Dwarka by two motorcycle-borne assailants on April 1.

“The scenario particularly post the death of Advocate Virender Narwal has created an atmosphere that does not feel favourable to practise the profession without fear and hence it impinges upon the right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business to all citizens under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and also violates Article 21 of the constitution that guarantees protection of life and personal liberty,” the petition before the court said.

In the petition filed through lawyer Robin Raju, the petitioners said Rajasthan has already passed a law which provides for police protection to any lawyer who is attacked or against whom criminal force and criminal intimidation is used while also prescribing a punishment for the offender.

It added that advocacy is considered to be a noble profession which also involves risks and threats, and a safe atmosphere is essential for practising the legal profession without fear. A “bare google search” would show that there have been incidents of attack on advocates in the recent past, it said.

“The Petitioners are constrained to move this Hon’ble Court as they have felt a sense of despair among fellow members of the Bar as well..The murder of Late Sh. Virender Narwal has compelled the Petitioners to think about their own safety,” the plea said.

The court was told that after the incident, the district bar associations even decided to abstain from work over the demand for quick enactment of Advocates Protection Act, and that its intervention was of utmost importance.

“Only an Act that guarantees protection to the fraternity of lawyers practising in Delhi will help remove the sense of fear that has embedded in the minds, particularly among young first-generation lawyers like the Petitioners herein due to the repeated acts of firing inside court premises and altercations to state the least,” the plea said.

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