November 23, 2007

Bombs Instead of the Bar: Enforcing Professional Ethics in India

by PG

More South Asian lawyers in the news: today three courthouses in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh were bombed, with the death toll currently at 13. A group claiming responsibility for this and other terrorist acts says this latest attack was in response to lawyers' mistreatment of alleged terrorists:

A little known group called the Indian Mujahideen has claimed responsibility. The group apparently sent an email to a private TV channel just five minutes before the blasts. ...
The mail further said that the blasts today were carried out because the police arrested two innocent people and framed them and lawyers at the three cities beat them when they were produced in court, refused to defend them and stopped others from taking up their case.
According to the police, the blasts may be in retaliation to the arrested terrorists being beaten up by lawyers and not being assigned even a counsel to defend them in the court.
If this Hindu.com story is accurate, the lawyers who work in Uttar Pradesh have a bizarre level of power over the courts:
Intelligence agencies here are investigating if the courts had been targeted in retaliation to the lawyers' assault on the JeM militants, police sources said. The JeM terrorists were roughed up by the agitated lawyers who almost succeeded in snatching them from the security personnel accompanying them in the court. Shouting slogans that the militants be hanged, the lawyers surrounded them and the police and PAC personnel had a tough time in taking them to safety.
Five militants, who were arrested in connection with the July 2005 attack on the Ram Janambhoomi complex at Ayodhya, had also failed to secure a lawyer as the Faizabad Bar Association had barred the lawyers to represent them. Unavailability of a legal representative resulted in repeated adjournments of the matter and things had come to such a pass that the authorities had approached the district and high court to shift the trial to some other place.
All aspects of the blasts are being investigated, including this angle, said a top police official on being asked whether courts might have been targeted as retaliation. Former president of Avadh Bar Association, Ashok Nigam, said the serial blasts were aimed at undermining the faith of the people in the judiciary.
Local lawyers said the JeM militants would not be allowed to enter the court here. Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bal Mukund, had to go to the district jail to hear the remand application of the police early this week.
Guess there's no equivalent of the Guantanamo Bay Bar Association for alleged terrorists in India, although at least in India the government intends to give terrorists trials, even if the attorneys aren't cooperating. Of course, the government's big fear is that Hindu mobs will attacks Muslims in reprisal for these terrorist attacks.

November 23, 2007 12:37 PM | TrackBack
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