Lawyers resent move by Delhi Police to tag their names with ‘criminals’ they defend in court
Lawyers in Delhi are up in arms after the Delhi High Court dismissed their petition challenging the practice of tagging lawyers to the criminals they defend in police dossiers
Lawyers in Delhi are up in arms after the Delhi High Court dismissed their petition challenging the practice of tagging lawyers to the criminals they defend in police dossiers. It is derogatory and obnoxious and liable to be misused, fumed several lawyers, threatening that they would challenge the order in the Supreme Court.
What has upset the lawyers is that part of the Standing Order of Delhi Police which says, “Dossiers of criminals are an important tool of policing. Delhi Police has already implemented a modern, computerised, webbased system of maintaining dossiers of criminals. This standing order lays down procedure for the preparation, maintenance and upkeep of dossiers of criminals in the State Crime Records Bureau and police stations.”
It then goes on to specify, among other things that basic information required for the dossier would include full description of the criminal, modus operandi used, details about the relatives, friends, advocates, habit, associates, previous involvements…” etc.
Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla dismissed the objections raised and upheld the Standing Order.
“The mere inclusion of the name and particulars of the advocate would not deter the advocate from representing the accused, as that fact is there for everyone to notice. It is well known that litigants, including those accused of commission of a crime, engage the same counsel often. There are also situations, where it becomes difficult to find and serve notices to the accused, if he has not been taken into custody, or is released on bail. Information about who is the advocate of such an accused, may come in handy to contact and locate the accused…,” reads a part of the order.
A section of lawyers and civil society are not convinced though. Vijay Jolly, a BJP leader said, “The name of lawyers in police dossiers is unacceptable.” A Supreme Court lawyer who did not want to be named said, “We set an example to the world when we provided a lawyer even to a terrorist like Kasab who was a Pakistani, till he was found guilty. Does his hanging mean that his lawyer would forever be tagged as the lawyer of a terrorist?”
Fiduciary relationship of lawyers with clients and of doctors with their patients is also cited by the lawyers. Both lawyers and doctors are expected to protect the interests of clients and not disclose what is shared in confidence. How will tagging the names help? Will a doctor who has treated a terminal case of cancer be blacklisted? In that case they should also tag the names of judges, said another irate lawyer.
A Delhi Police spokesperson, however, felt that lawyers were over reacting. “It is well known which lawyer represents whom. It is in the public domain. But the dossier is a confidential document for internal use. Why are they unduly worried?”
(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)