Appealing to the lawyers to show commitment towards promotion of justice and not towards their clients, union law and justice minister Dr Ashwani Kumar on Thursday urged honest people to join active politics with the aim of 'service before self' to cleanse the prevalent political system.
The minister was addressing a function organised at the courts complex here by the Gurdaspur district bar association (GDBA) to honour him on his appointment to the union cabinet.
Kumar, who hails from Gurdaspur and is an honourary member of the GDBA, lauded the legal fraternity and quoted British philosopher DN Pitt that the lawyers' community was the strongest trade union in the world.
He said that lawyers had played a pivotal role during Emergency in the country, and appealed to members of the legal fraternity to join public life to save the basic democratic structure of the country from harm at the hands of selfish people.
Dr Ashwani Kumar announced that he had given Rs 10-12 lakh from his MPLADS funds for construction of a library hall and the GDBA library, and assured of more help in future.
GDBA president Ashok Tiwari lauded Dr Ashwani Kumar as well as his father, late Parbodh Chander, who remained speaker of vidhan sabha of undivided Punjab.
On the occasion, Tiwari presented the union minister with a memento on behalf of GDBA.
Resentment prevailed among many lawyers against GDBA president Ashok Tiwari for his alleged failure to put before the union minister the demands of GDBA members. They rued that the district administration had demolished their chambers forcibly two years ago to pave way for the construction of a new judicial complex at a cost of Rs 40.27-crore but the project did not provide for chambers for advocates.
The local lawyers rued that they were not paid compensation for their demolished chambers, which they had built from their own pockets.
The aggrieved lawyers maintained that they later contributed Rs 1.15 lakh each for the construction of new chambers, but the promised matching grant of Rs 1 crore from the state government was still awaited.
When contacted, Tiwari told Hindistan Times that the function on Thursday was organised only to honour the union minister and that all the demands of the GDBA would be conveyed to Dr Ashwani Kumar in the coming days.
The GDBA president claimed that the union minister had always been very helpful to the district bar association.
He also said that he would also demand a high court bench at Gurdaspur since area litigants had to go all the way to Chandigarh for their cases, wasting in the process a lot of time and money.
District and sessions judge SK Garg and other members of the judiciary were also present at the function. It was learnt that before according his consent to be present at the function, Garg had told the organisers that he would not address the audience.