Allahabad, September 19, 2023 – In a significant development, the Allahabad High Court has expressed dissatisfaction with the preliminary report submitted by the State-constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) concerning the investigation into the police lathicharge on lawyers in Hapur District. A bench comprising Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi raised several pertinent questions about the report’s content and transparency.
Lack of Mention of Lawyer Injuries Raises Concerns
The High Court bench noted a glaring omission in the preliminary report: there was no mention of the injuries sustained by lawyers during the incident. Furthermore, the report failed to include statements from any aggrieved lawyers involved in the lathicharge incident. While the report acknowledged that the lawyers and the crowd were deemed out of control, justifying the cane-charge, it notably lacked details regarding any lawyers being armed.
Transfer of Investigation to Meerut and Concerns
During the proceedings, it was revealed that the investigation had been shifted from Hapur to Meerut. However, lawyers representing the Hapur Bar Association informed the Court that the officer responsible for the incident, although suspended, had been transferred to Meerut. This development raised concerns among lawyers who were apprehensive about giving statements at the police station in Meerut where the investigation had been transferred.
The Court promptly addressed these concerns and directed the State to make arrangements for recording statements from the aggrieved lawyers, ensuring a fair and transparent investigation process.
Transparency Concerns Over Preliminary Report
The Court also raised questions about the confidentiality of the preliminary report. It asked the Additional Advocate General if the document was intended to remain secret and not be made public. Given that no objection was raised by the Additional Advocate General, the report was shared with members of the bar representing the Hapur Bar Association, Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh, and members of the High Court Bar Association, Allahabad, present in court.
Interim Report Details: Incident and Protests
The interim report, dated September 17, 2023, provides a detailed account of the incident that triggered the subsequent events. According to the report, the incident began with an altercation between Advocate Priyanka Tyagi and two police officers after her car allegedly hit their motorcycle. Ms. Tyagiand a co-passenger were accused of misbehaving with the officers, including attempting to pull one officer’s badge and tearing his uniform.
Subsequently, when legal proceedings were initiated, Ms. Tyagiallegedly did not cooperate. On August 28, lawyers passed a resolution for a peaceful protest on August 29. However, it is alleged that the lawyers deviated from their planned peaceful demonstration. They reportedly disrupted traffic and chanted slogans against the police during a procession from the District Court to the Tehsil crossing. The lawyers then proceeded to the police station, where some allegedly entered and misbehaved with the officers.
The report elaborates on how lawyers’ alleged misbehavior with the police continued, leading to the use of force to control the situation. It also notes that certain police officers sustained injuries during these events. However, the Court highlighted that the interim inquiry report did not provide a comprehensive account of the facts and failed to adhere to the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The Court particularly questioned why the statements of the two lady lawyers mentioned in the report were not recorded.
Court’s Directives and Next Steps
In response to the concerns raised during the proceedings, the Allahabad High Court has directed the State to file a counter affidavit before the next scheduled listing date. This directive underscores the Court’s commitment to ensuring a thorough and transparent investigation into the Hapur lawyer lathichargeincident.
As the investigation continues, the legal community, as well as the public, will be closely watching the developments in this case, with expectations of a fair and impartial resolution. The Allahabad High Court’s scrutiny of the preliminary report serves as a reminder of the importance of transparency and accountability in the pursuit of justice.