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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

‘Everyone refers to us as goons, dogs’: When a lawyer climbed court’s terrace wall

Two lawyers attempted to commit suicide at outer Delhi’s Rohini Court on Wednesday.

delhi Updated: Nov 07, 2019 10:47 IST
Shiv Sunny
Shiv Sunny
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
At around 10.30 am on Wednesday, a young advocate climbed up to the terrace of a 15-storey tall building. He threatened to jump to his death.
At around 10.30 am on Wednesday, a young advocate climbed up to the terrace of a 15-storey tall building. He threatened to jump to his death.
         

Lawyer Ashish Choudhary had barely stepped out of his car outside his home in outer Delhi’s Rohini on Tuesday night when he overheard his neighbours talk about him in whispers. They were calling him a “kaale coat wala goonda (goon in black coat)”.

“Before this, they would talk to me with respect. Now everyone refers to us lawyers as goons and dogs. The reputation of lawyers has been tarnished after the episode with the police and it disturbed me all night,” said Choudhary who practices criminal law.

When Choudhary, 34, arrived for work at Rohini court on Wednesday at 10 am, he brought with him a bottle of petrol. Then, in the presence of dozens of lawyers and civilians, he poured it on himself and looked for a lighter he had brought along.

He couldn’t find it.

“We were prepared for the situation and had taken away his lighter beforehand. We had also kept all matchboxes out of his sight,” said another advocate who didn’t want to be named.

His life saved, Choudhary went on to address some journalists before his colleagues moved him to a nearby clinic for “treatment”. “His skin would have been harmed by the petrol,” said another colleague.

This was not to be the only “suicide attempt” at Rohini court on Wednesday.

At around 10.30 am, a younger advocate climbed up to the terrace of a 15-storey tall building. He threatened to jump to his death.

“I have been seeing only abuse for lawyers on social media since our confrontation with the police (at Tis Hazari court). My family doesn’t want me to leave home in black coat. They are afraid that I would be beaten up,” said the 28-year-old family advocate, Rohit Pathak.

Other lawyers were quick to react this time as well. “Some senior lawyers ran upstairs to persuade Pathak to step down,” said his colleague, Jatin Kumar.

A video shot of the incident showed Pathak balancing himself on the boundary wall of the terrace while an advocate urged him not to jump. “We will ensure action against the policemen,” the advocate told him.

Pathak said that he gave up the suicide plan in less than 30 minutes of climbing up the terrace.

Later, the two lawyers sat together with their other colleagues in protest against the police. Every once in a while they obliged journalists with interviews, lashing out at the police.

As it turned out, police did not arrive at either of the two scenes of “suicide bids”. “When I called the in-charge of the local police post during the immolation bid, the officer said he was instructed by his seniors not to visit the court,” said advocate Pankaj Jain.

When Pathak climbed the building, a senior police officer said, no call to the police control room (PCR) was made. “From journalists we got to know of the suicide attempt. From a judge I got to know that the lawyer was brought down,” said the officer.

Meanwhile, a Supreme Court lawyer has served a legal notice to Delhi police commissioner Amulya Patnaik over the protests by the policemen and women. Advocate Varun Thakur said that the “demonstration and irresponsible activities” by the police was a violation of The Police Forces (Restriction of Rights) Act.