Sunday, December 3, 2023

Supreme Court issues notice on plea by arrested law intern belonging to minority community, who alleged communally hostile environment prevented legal aid

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The Supreme Court,has issued notice in a plea which was filed by a lawyer and a young law intern stating that they have fallen victim to communal frenzy.

The women(lawyer and law intern)who  belong to a minority community have approached the Top Court under Article 32 for asserting their right to life and liberty under the Constitution of India.

As per the writ petition the petitioners – lawyer Noorjahan and law student Sonu Mansoori- are allegedly being implicated in false, baseless, politically motivated and communally charged cases.

The women lawyer and law intern claim that this is done at the behest of the local organisations having affiliations to the current political dispensation in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

As per the petition,on 28.01.2023, the supporters of Bajrang Dal manhandled the law intern along with a few lawyers who are associated with the Adhivakta Sangh.
The law intern is  accused of secretly recording the bail proceedings of a Bajrang Dal leader who was accused of carrying out acts of vandalism in protest of the movie ‘Pathan’

In the petition, the law intern has submitted of being forcibly frisked.She ha also accused the miscreants if  snatching away a large sum of money and a phone that was in her possession.

The petition also adds that though the police came to the spot, there was no action taken against the curlprits, instead the intern was taken to the police station and an FIR was lodged against her on the basis of complaint that she was working for banned organisations like the PFI and the Peace Party.

Later on, she was arrested and then produced before the Judicial Magistrate, Remand was granted till 01.02.2023.

As there was no lawyer who dared to appear on behalf of the intern amidst the “communally hostile environment” created by the miscreants.

As per the petition,none of the  local lawyers agreed to defend her, four lawyers had to go from Delhi to file the bail application.

These four Counsels had asked for police protection, but were denied the same. They were even prevented from attending the court hearing.

The police remand was extended till 04.02.2023,after which  the Advocates approached the local Bar Association for informing the members about the treatment meted out to them, the members expressed their helplessness.
The lawyers were constrained to return to Delhi. Due to lack of legal representation, the intern has now been sent to judicial custody.

The petition asks for directions from the Apex Court for an independent inquiry into the incident that took place in the Indore District Courts premises.

The petition seeks for either sitting or retired panel be entrusted with the investigation. The petition also seeks directions to the State Government to ensure safety of the petitioners.

An FIR has also been registered against the lawyer petitioner, the Court is thus implored to stay her arrest in that regard.

The petition further seeks that the law intern, who has been in custody for almost two months be enlarged on bail; the FIR against her be quashed; alternatively, investigation be transferred to an independent agency, preferably one outside Madhya Pradesh.

Earlier, the Bench comprising of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Bela M. Trivedi had asked the petitioners to approach the High Court. Upon being informed that the High Court is in the same vicinity as the District Court wherein the incident had taken place, the Bench issued notice and listed the matter for hearing on 20.03.2022.

Justice Rastogi had asked Senior Advocate, Mr. Dushyant Dave, for appearing on behalf of the petitioners to share a copy of the petition with the Standing Counsel for the State of Madhya Pradesh today itself.

When the matter came up for hearing, Justice Rastogi asked, “Why are you coming to this Court? Go to the High Court.”

Mr. Dave responded,told that nobody can defend her as the lawyers who went from Delhi were chased away. This is an extraordinary case. The Prime Minister had to intervene in this issue. The Prime Minister had to caution everybody that, ‘do not stop movies like this’.

Advocate Dave added that he has approached by the Apex Court under Article 32 of the Constitution asserting the right to liberty of the petitioner, who has been in custody for almost 2 months now.

Justice Rastogi however, did not seem to be happy about the routine practice of advocates seeking transfer of cases to Delhi and said that this business of getting every matter transferred to Delhi is not acceptable as 439 Cr.P.C. is a concurrent jurisdiction.

Mr. Dave submitted that they are not asking for a transfer as they have moved to court under article 32 for your lordship’s intervention. There is no reason to arrest this young girl as article 32 supersedes everything.”

Justice Trivedi opined that the petitioners ought to first exhaust the remedy before the High Court and that they need to pproach the competent high court first and then this court.

The Judges were apprised that the High Court in Indore is next door to the District Court where the unfortunate incident had taken place. Taking note of the same, the Bench issued notice to the State.

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