ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Accused, Presumed Guilty

When the bar decides to pick and choose who it wants to defend, the legal community is shaming the idea of justice.

In the past three years, the district bar associations of a number of towns in Uttar Pradesh have one after another passed resolutions denying their services to those accused of acts of terror. Starting from 2005 in three different incidents in the Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad courts, lawyers have beat up in the presence of the police those accused of terrorist attacks. Yet, what this kind of denial of justice means for the families of the accused and for society at large has not caught the attention of the media or of civil liberties groups.

The Faizabad bar association was the first to pass a resolution boycotting the accused in terrorist cases following the attack on the makeshift temple in Ayodhya in July 2005. The following year, when the main accused in the Sankatmochan temple and railway station blasts was produced in the Varanasi court, lawyers there manhandled him and the bar association decided to boycott all the accused. In November 2007, some Lucknow lawyers beat up suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad operatives who were accused of conspiring to attack Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. A week after this, six bombs exploded in the crowded civil courts of Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow killing 13 persons (four of them lawyers) and injuring 60 others. The media, the police and government officials were certain that these explosions were in retaliation for the lawyers’ refusal to defend the terror accused.

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