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It is definitely a matter of utmost grave concern which cannot be just glossed over any longer that one after the other, the repeated attacks on lawyers for one reason or the other are increasing very rapidly in our country. The heat, dust and din generated by the much reported lathicharge on the lawyers by police in Hapur on August 29 had not even subsided that a lawyer in Manipur has been targeted ruthlessly by attacking the lawyer’s home and in fact the lawyers in UP are still most agitated over it and are strongly protesting against the most brutal lathicharge of lawyers in Hapur boycotting work in courts as so many lawyers without any fault of theirs got seriously injured over which even the Supreme Court Bar Association, Allahabad High Court Bar Association, Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh and many Bar Associations of different States who had all unitedly expressed full solidarity with the lawyers of Hapur who were the prime targets and had to bear the maximum brunt of police lathicharge right outside the court premises. Now most recently we yet again read that the Supreme Court Bar Association has once again expressed its serious concerns at various news reports pertaining to the ransacking of the home and office of Manipur lawyer named Soraicham Chittaranjan for representing Kuki Professor Kham Khan Suan Hausing who is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad in a criminal case. It also must be noted that on August 14, 2023, we had seen that interim protection was granted to Professor Hausing from coercive action for two weeks by the Supreme Court and he had been asked by the top court to approach the Manipur High Court for reliefs.

It must be certainly mentioned here that Mr Hausing who is a Kuki academic and who has been quite vocal about the alleged role of the State Government in radicalizing the Meitei community is facing a private criminal case in Imphal that had been filed by the Meitei civilians for an interview which he had given to a news website. We also had seen how it was widely reported in media that four Imphal-based lawyers fearing threat to their lives and property had decided not to represent Hyderabad University Professor Kham Khan Suan Hausing in the Manipur High Court after being threatened by the members of the Meitei community as disclosed by one of the advocates to the media. It must be noted that with senior and eminent Supreme Court lawyer Mr Anand Grover representing Mr Hausing, four Imphal-based advocates named Soraicham Chittaranjan, Victor Chongtham, Th. Zingo and A Priyokumar Sharma had also decided to assist Mr Anand Grover in the Manipur High Court. But they decided to backtrack after the massive ransacking of the home and so also the office of the Manipur lawyer named Soraicham Chittaranjan for representing Kuki Professor Kham Khan Suan Hausing in a criminal case. Chittaranjan was at pains to point out that even after the attack, the police did not provide him and his family any security, and that they are staying in a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) guest house. He further pointed out that, "though my family members were lucky to have escaped without any physical harm, police haven’t provided us with any security. At present, we are taking shelter in a CRPF guest house." This is definitely a matter of grave concern because if lawyers are attacked so mercilessly for doing their job of defending their clients then how will they be able to perform their job most fearlessly?

It is worth noting that Mr Anand Grover categorically pointed out that, "They were facing threats and vandalism and so the lawyers assisting had decided to withdraw." In addition, we must note here that Mr. Hausing further lamented that, "First, they threatened the lawyers on Thursday. Then the office of one of the lawyers was vandalized on Friday and so they withdrew." Those who attack lawyers must be given exemplary punishment and under no circumstances should be allowed to go away scot free or let off lightly! If lawyers are not safe in our country then who will be safe?

Needless to say, we also need to definitely pay very close attention to the glaring and irrefutable fact that none other than the Supreme Court Bar Association itself in its commendable resolution titled SCBA/Registry.31/2023 and dated September 6, 2023 while strongly denouncing the most dastardly attack on the house and office of the lawyer in Manipur named Soraisham Chittaranjan has on record stated in no uncertain terms that, "The Supreme Court Bar Association has taken serious notice of news reports which have stated that the house and office of Mr. Soraisham Chittaranjan, an Advocate in Manipur, have been ransacked by some persons because he was representing his client in the capacity of being his Advocate. The Supreme Court Bar Association underlines that lawyers are free to appear for any litigant. Any attempt by any person to intimidate lawyers into not appearing for any party has the effect of interfering in the administration of justice and needs to be condemned in the strongest possible manner. The Supreme Court Bar Association stands in solidarity with Mr Soraisham Chittaranjan and it urges the State and the Manipur police to provide adequate protection to the lawyers in question and take immediate effective action against the guilty."

It is high time and Centre now without indulging in anymore dilly-dallying must definitely without fail pay heed in totality to what none other than the Supreme Court Bar Association had itself suggested while condemning strongly the brutal police lathicharge in Hapur expounding most clearly, cogently and convincingly that, "Introduce and implement the Advocates Protection Act for protection of advocates and its families against such brutal incidents."

There can be certainly no gainsaying that it brooks no more delay anymore now and must be implemented at the earliest! The earlier this is done, the better it shall be in the interest of the judicial system of our nation of which lawyers who are the "officers of the court" constitute the inalienable part and are also the true nucleus of the whole judicial setup which even many Supreme Court Judges have been truly candid enough to acknowledge most graciously! Of course, this must be certainly taken most seriously now by Centre and all necessary and most meaningful steps to ensure the proper protection of advocates must be definitely undertaken on a war footing!

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