ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Condemn Attacks on Lawyers and Journalists in Bastar

The Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) is alarmed at the manner in which the Bastar Bar Association, in tandem with the police, is creating legal hurdles for the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JAGLAG) in providing representation to local Adivasis who are harassed as Naxal offenders. Playing on a technicality of “outside” lawyers, the Bar Association passed a diktat on 5 October against JAGLAG lawyers on the grounds that they are not registered in Chhattisgarh. The Dantewada District Bar Association followed suit and also passed a resolution preventing “outside” lawyers from practising in local courts. While Rule 262 of the Chhattisgarh High Court disallows advocates who are not on the rolls of the Bar Council, from appearing or pleading in court, it needs to be remembered that no Bar Association in the country has the authority to prevent a lawyer from practising in any court in the country, under Section 30 of the Advocates Act. Most importantly, only the Bar Council of India can revoke the licence of a lawyer—that too after due process.

The legal fraternity’s concerted efforts to prevent JAGLAG from functioning are part of a wider campaign started by the police, several months ago. In April, Bastar’s Inspector General (IG), S R P Kalluri, issued threats against “certain NGOs” for allegedly aiding and abetting the Maoists under the guise of helping Adivasis. JAGLAG had actively intervened on behalf of the victims of police firing in Modema village and helped highlight police violations. In recent months, the campaign against JAGLAG gathered momentum when the Bastar Police began their inquiry into the organisation’s legal credentials after an anonymous complaint by an “Aam Nagrik.” While JAGLAG lawyers have shown their certification and have also applied for their transfer from Delhi Bar Association to Chhattisgarh, the haras­sment started taking shape when a bail application moved by JAGLAG lawyers was rejected on grounds of the organisation’s credentials. The recent resolutions passed by the Bar Associations are aimed at preventing local lawyers from associating with JAGLAG.

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