'It is very sad. Everyone is feeling bad. Because of some lawyers our profession has been defamed.'
'We are the protectors of the law and we cannot start violating it.'
Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of the Bar Council of India, is saddened by the violence at the Patiala House court on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mishra, who feels the incidents have shifted the blame from the JNU students to lawyers, spoke to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com
Are you planning any action against the lawyers who resorted to violence at the Patiala House court in New Delhi?
The Bar Council has constituted a high-level committee headed by a former judge of the Supreme Court. We have taken this issue very seriously and requested the committee to submit their report as soon as possible.
If found guilty, will the lawyers involved be given a warning and let off or will their licences be suspended?
Prima facie, if the inquiry committee give us a report that these people were involved (in the violence) with proof, then we will take action immediately and the proceedings can go on later.
Can the licences of these lawyers to practice law be cancelled?
Hundreds of licences of lawyers have been cancelled before and action can be taken in this case also.
The number of years a lawyer loses her/his licence depends on the gravity of the offence.
Has the Bar Council taken action against lawyers before for misconduct?
In one case 24 lawyers were suspended. Before that, five lawyers were suspended by the Bar Council for misconduct. They are still suspended.
Do you have proof against the lawyers involved in the Patiala House incident?
Whatever video we have got is from the media. Some lawyers are giving statements before the committee.
How many lawyers face action?
At this moment I cannot tell you the exact figure. That will be known after the inquiry. But I can tell you 20 lawyers will face this inquiry.
What did the Supreme Court tell you?
I told the Supreme Court that we have already taken action. The court asked us to give details on Monday (February 22), which we will do.
Is there a time frame for action to be taken against the lawyers?
I had given a time frame of three weeks, but now I will have to wait for the order of the Supreme Court (on Monday).
The committee will only function after the Supreme Court tells us what to do. This committee has three members: A former Supreme Court judge, a senior Supreme Court advocate and a member of the Bar Council.
As chairman of the Bar Council of India, how do you view this incident?
It is very sad. Everyone is feeling bad about this issue. Because of some lawyers our profession has been defamed.
I have apologised for this on the behalf of the entire legal fraternity. Because of their wrongdoing the main issue got diverted.
You mean to say that attention was diverted from what happened at JNU to what happened at the Patiala House court?
Certainly, the lawyers are the culprits (in the Patiala House court violence). Till date the media used to examine the role of politicians, students and teachers, but after this incident they are examining the role of lawyers too. And this is happening because of the misconduct of a few lawyers.
But lawyers also have a right to protest, isn't it?
This is not the way to show your patriotism.
You are learned people. You could do dharna at Jantar Mantar, but do not get into a fight.
Everyone has a right to express his opinion and there is a place for everyone.
We are the protectors of the law and we cannot start violating it.
Do you think it is necessary for lawyers to be present in court when a case like this is being heard?
Whenever there is a high-profile or sensational case, lawyers want to attend, just like journalists want to attend.
On Thursday too, the Supreme Court was packed with lawyers. You cannot stop it.
Lawyers do respect the courts, but disgruntled members are in every class and profession, what to do.