The name of Kiran Bedi, the present Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, found a mention during the protests of the Delhi Police personnel on Tuesday. The personnel raised chants of 'humara CP kaisa ho, Kiran Bedi jaisa ho' (What should our Commissioner of Police be like? The CP should be like Kiran Bedi.)
Through these slogans, the protesters recalled the role that Bedi, as an IPS officer, played as the Deputy Commissioner of Police in Delhi in 1988 during a police-lawyer clash.
On Tuesday, the protesting police personnel did not see Amulya Patnaik, the present Commissioner of the Delhi Police, as a force multiplier in the recent clash between police and lawyers. The police personnel appeared to suggest that Patnaik should have acted in the stern manner that Bedi exemplified in 1988.
For Amulya Patnaik, the Commissioner of the Delhi Police, this comes as a major embarrassment because he is being compared unfavourably with a former who held a much lower rank at the relevant time.
Bedi, on her part, might reckon the slogans raised on Tuesday as a vindication of her role in the incidents from 31 years ago. Following the clashes in 1988, Bedi had been transferred out of Delhi.
What had happened in 1988?
The police-lawyer confrontation on 15 January, 1988 in Delhi erupted after Bedi arrested a lawyer named Rajesh Agnihotri after he was caught stealing from a girl's purse at St Stephen's College. Following this, lawyers in Delhi organised a strike.
A clash took place on 21 January, 1988, a day after Bedi had at a press conference called Agnihotri a “thief”. In response, a group of 100 lawyers demanded to meet Bedi in her office. The lawyers wanted an apology from her and sought to register their protest over the remarks in front of her.
The attempt of the lawyers to meet Bedi led to a heated exchange and then a lathicharge by the police. About 30 lawyers and journalists were injured in this incident.
Bedi had said that the protesting lawyers were responsible for the incident. She claimed that a group of them had stormed into her office, threatened to strip her, uttered obscenities and actually advanced towards her, threatening to carry them out.
The third incident in this connection occured on 17 February, 1988, when a mob attacked lawyers' chambers and cars in Tis Hazari court. Lawyers had alleged that the attacks were the handiwork of Bedi.
Lawyers stopped courts from functioning in Delhi and neighbouring states for the next two months, and demanded Bedi's resignation. The strike was called off after the Delhi High Court constituted a two-judge committee to investigate the matter. Known as Wadhwa Commission, the committee consisted of Justice DP Wadhwa and Justice NN Goswamy. The Commission’s report censured both the parties.
The inquiry by the Wadhwa committee had said that the mob had been organised and transported with the help of officials from the Samaypur Badli and Shalimar Bagh police stations. It opined that no steps were taken, intentionally so, to stop the mob en route or even at the gates of the Tis Hazari court.
After the committee’s report was published, she was transferred to Mizoram as Deputy Inspector General (Range). She never held a post in active policing in Delhi again.
Updated Date: Nov 05, 2019 21:56:09 IST