The Bar Association of Thiruvananthapuram has decided that its members should not represent a police officer who threatened a local advocate, according to a newspaper report.
The officer is Sureshkumar, Circle Inspector of the Cantonment police. K. Shaji, an advocate who had moved an application in the district court seeking anticipatory bail for a person named Suresh, had complained that Sureshkumar threatened him on the telephone for two days. The court the police to register a case and investigate.
Whether or not Sureshkumar is guilty of the charge levelled against him is a matter for the court to decide on the basis of the evidence produced before it. The police is known to go to great lengths to protect the evil elements in its ranks. The lawyers cannot, therefore, be blamed if they do not expect it to conduct a fair investigation. That, however, is no justification for them to deny him the right to a proper defence.
It is possible to argue that the association has only barred local lawyers from appearing for the inspector and that it is open for him to engage a lawyer from some other place. What is the guarantee that the association will not put obstacles in the way of a lawyer from elsewhere who is ready to appear for him?
The bar association’s stand shows scant regard for a basic principle of legal and human rights -- an accused person’s right to be defended by a person of his choice. It also reveals that the professional training the lawyers received is deficient inasmuch as they are not able to overcome petty personal and group prejudices.
The association must reconsider its position, recognizing lawyers’ duty to respect human rights.