HC voices concern over safety of people; says arsonist on the loose

HC voices concern over safety of people; says arsonist on the loose

The Delhi High Court today expressed apprehension over the safety of people in their homes in the national capital, saying that an "arsonist is on the loose throwing firebombs and setting cars ablaze".

The remarks were made by the court during the hearing of a petition relating to a woman lawyer's assault by the police in a stalking case against her in connection with a property dispute.

There was high drama during the proceedings as some advocates beat up an unidentified man suspecting him to behind the recent attacks on lawyers.

Senior lawyers, who have been representing the woman, have been at the receiving end of arson attacks at their homes and the cars of two of them were set ablaze.

According to court staff, the bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Deepa Sharma had risen for a five-minute break when some of the advocates present in the court beat up the man.

Lawyers said the man did not state how he entered the court premises and alleged his face resembled that of the arsonist who was caught on CCTV footage throwing a firebomb at one of the senior lawyers' home.

After returning from the break, the judges expressed serious concern over the incident and said that the courtroom cannot be turned into an "akhaada" (wrestling ground).

They also rapped the police for not maintaining law and order in the court as well as in the city in view of the arson attacks on lawyers, including president of the Delhi High Court Bar Association Kirti Uppal.

"If you (police) are unable to handle law and order, let us know. We cannot allow the court to turn into an 'akhaada'. We are not going to permit this," the bench said and questioned, "is anybody safe?"

"We are concerned that there is an arsonist on the loose in the national capital throwing firebombs and setting cars ablaze," the bench said.

It also asked the registrar general of the high court to look into how unauthorised people were entering court premises.

The court was also unhappy that no FIR had been lodged till date in connection with an assault on the woman lawyer by police officers on December 19 last year.

The court said it would continue with the hearing.

Earlier in the day, it termed the recent attacks on properties of three advocates as "startling" and sought an action taken a report from the Delhi Police on the issue.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar sought the report in two days, saying the incident warrants swift and necessary action.

The court' direction came while initiating the proceeding on its own after taking note of the fact that lawyers abstained from the work on January 25 in view of the attacks.

The high court bar association had on January 24 passed a resolution condemning the January 9 and 22 attacks on the properties and cars of senior advocates Vikas Pahwa and Kirti Uppal, who is also the president of the DHCBA, by using an inflammable substance.

A similar incident took place on January 4 when the two cars-- a Maruti Swift and a Honda Amaze-- parked in the east Delhi house of advocate Ravi Sharma were allegedly torched by unidentified persons.

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