|Friday, February 25, 2000,
80 hurt as lawyers, cops clash
NEW DELHI, Feb 24 (UNI) The nationwide strike by lawyers today was marred by a clash with the police in Delhi which left nearly 80 injured even as the Union Law Minister, Mr Ram Jethmalani, and bar councils agreed to start a dialogue to thrash out the controversy over the proposed amendments to the Civil Procedure Code (CPC).
About 80 lawyers, policemen and journalists were injured in the clash between the striking advocates, who breached barricades, and helmeted cops who burst tear gas shells and used batons to disperse the gathering, which held a two-hour demonstration on Parliament Street.
Among the injured were the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Pranab Nanda, and the Assistant Commissioners of Police, Mr Vijay Malik and Mr T.S. Bhalla, besides the Secretary of the Delhi Bar Association (DBA), Mr Rajiv Khosla.
All 10 benches of the Supreme Court did not function today in view of the strike.
Mr Jethmalani announced that the government was ordering an inquiry to ascertain the reasons and circumstances leading to the ugly incident. The Delhi Chief Minister, Ms Sheilja Dikshit, demanded setting up a high-powered committee to probe the incident.
While the Bar Association of India said the proposed changes in the Advocates Act needed to be discussed, the Delhi High Court Bar Association President, Mr A.S. Chandiok, said the lawyers were ready for a dialogue.
The Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, alleged that the police assault appeared to be pre-planned. After visiting the injured lawyers at Ram Manoher Lohia Hospital here, she demanded action against police officials involved in the assault.
The Attorney-General of India, Mr Soli Sorabjee, and the Solicitor-General, Mr Harish Salve, also visited the injured and held a meeting with the Medical Superintendent about the treatment of lawyers.
Mr Lalit Bhasin, General Secretary of the Bar Association of India (BAI), called for the President K.R. Narayanans intervention and an independent inquiry. He said the lawyers were protesting against the most objectionable and reprehensible amendments carried out in the code of civil procedures and proposed amendments to the Advocates Act.
During the three-hour demonstration here, both policemen and advocates pelted stones at each other. The police used water canons to prevent the lawyers from marching towards Parliament House.
Advocate Kulbhushans ribs were broken but no medical aid was forthcoming even four hours at the surgical observatory ward. Mukesh Anands head was bleeding while A.L. Manav had splinters in his thighs.
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