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HCBA President Vikas Malik Steps Down Amid sexual harassment allegations

Advocate Vikas Malik, President of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association (HCBA), has temporarily stepped down following severe accusations, including physical assault and sexual harassment

The High Court has instructed the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana to conduct a thorough investigation into these claims.

Incident Leading to FIR

Malik was allegedly involved in a physical confrontation with another lawyer, Advocate Ranjeet Singh, on the High Court premises, resulting in an FIR under the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS). Singh was reportedly serving Malik a dasti notice related to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) accusing Malik of misappropriating HCBA funds.

Acting President Assumes Role

In response to these developments, HCBA Vice President Jasdev Singh Brar has taken on the role of Acting President. Malik has clarified that he has not formally resigned but has merely “handed over” his responsibilities temporarily. Malik stated, “These are totally false, baseless allegations in the FIR and the sexual harassment complaint as well. There is no evidence against me… these are politically motivated complaints,” denying all accusations.

Court’s Response and Investigation

During the PIL hearing, the division bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice GS Sandhawalia and Justice Vikas Bahl, stressed the necessity for close monitoring by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Chandigarh. The court underscored that the assault could be perceived as interference with the administration of justice, potentially amounting to criminal contempt.

Strike Declaration and Legal Stance

The court also addressed efforts by Malik and some supporters to call a lawyers’ strike, declaring such actions illegal. “The law has been established by the Apex Court that any call for a strike by member(s) of the Bar Association would be illegal,” the court explained.

Sexual Harassment Allegations

Complicating the situation further, the High Court took serious note of the sexual harassment allegations against Malik. “Various complaints of sexual harassment from lady Advocates and female employees of the Bar Association have been received,” the bench noted, directing that these complaints be investigated thoroughly.

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