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Armed violence between Delhi bar council members, disciplinary to follow

Exclusive: The Delhi bar council held an emergency meeting yesterday, ruling on allegations by its youngest member Rajesh Mishra’ that he was assaulted by a pistol-armed group of lawyers, including elected Delhi bar council member [...], following an altercation ostensibly over recognition of a local bar association.

The bar council called yesterday’s meeting in the Delhi High Court at Mishra’s behest and decided to institute disciplinary proceedings against the alleged attacking lawyers and barring [the accused BCI member] after the latter tendered an unconditional apology for his behaviour, according to meeting minutes seen by Legally India and authoritative bar council sources.

In his written complaint Mishra had alleged that [the BCI member] threatened and abused him on 19 November at a high-powered committee meeting for the formation of the Saket Bar Association in Delhi. According to Mishra, his refusal to withdraw recognition to Geeta Colony Bar Association instigated the fight.

On 22 November, according to Mishra’s allegations recorded in the minutes, [the alleged attacker and BCI member] and seven to eight people including some other lawyers Mishra recognised cornered him in an alley between the office of the Delhi Bar Association and bar room number 2 outside the Tis Hazari Court.

Mishra’s complaint read: “They slapped me, pulled my hairs, and Mr. [...] hit on my back with the pistol’s butt. These persons were beating me brutally with some hard article and Mr. [...] again slapped me and directed some Mr. Sharwan to hit me on my face and among these someone snatched away my gold chain.”

“I hereby request you to take immediate action against Mr. [...], Advocate for termination of his license to practice and further strict action(s) as deemed fit in these circumstances,” Mishra concluded in his statement.

The minutes of yesterday’s Delhi bar council meeting stated: “The conduct of Mr. [...] was condemned unanimously. Mr. [...] tendered unconditional apology. The council has further decided to unanimously initiate disciplinary proceedings under the rules against the other lawyers involved in the misconduct as per the complaint of Mr. Mishra.”

[The accused BCI member] told Legally India when contacted: “There was a meeting of the bar council members yesterday and everything is over now.”

However, sources with knowledge of the development told Legally India that Mishra had not fully accepted the apology and intended to initiate further action against [...].

Sources in the Delhi Bar Council have in the past recounted two opposing camps of 12 members each having been at loggerheads giving rise to infighting between members.

This incident too is understood to have been an outcome of prevailing frictions between some factions of the Delhi bar council.

In December 2009, all 25 members of the Delhi Bar Council were elected after two days of voting but complex political manoeuvring for top posts followed, as is common in bar council elections. The body was also dogged by questions over hereditary succession after former chairman KK Sareen passed away. In September the bar council then elected Rakesh Tiku as its chairman.

The make-up and procedure adopted by the body has also been questioned in a writ petition filed by Luthra & Luthra partner and Delhi bar council member Vijay Sondhi, who has also filed right to information (RTI) requests on the Delhi bar council elections and membership, which has to date not been successful.

Photo by Michael

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