Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Ask HN: Help, HN'er in trouble, we need a laywer in Delhi immediately
591 points by jacquesm on Nov 4, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 108 comments
Hello Hacker News,

A fellow HN'er (who has to remain anon for a bit) is in serious trouble in India. She's been taken into police custody to be presented in front of a magistrate without representation. We URGENTLY need a lawyer on the ground in Delhi but it being Sunday there found that it is very hard to reach anybody there.

If you have contacts in Delhi or are in Delhi yourself please help us to find a competent criminal lawyer in the next few hours.

You can reach us through j@ww.com phone + 31 6 30 366 241

   Jacques Mattheij (jacquesm) & Daniel Tenner (swombat).



This is no joke. The case is driven by people who are influential with the police/judicial in Delhi. We need to get solid legal help on the ground before this person arrives in Delhi (in about 3 hours).

Please help.

Edit: some answers to common questions:

- It is not a good idea to discuss the details of the case right now. There is a police case, it is completely made up as an excuse to get hold of the person we're talking about (I've seen the case filing). The main charge is kidnapping, and she's the victim - but somehow she still gets arrested. India for the win.

- She's an Indian national.

- We need a professional, influential, trustworthy lawyer and are willing to pay (reasonable fees).


Hey Daniel i've emailed you a lawyer contact.


Thanks. I've replied!


Is this a personal matter or did the victim do something to displease the powers that be ?


The victim has not done anything to feel guilty about. The case is made up. Not that that stopped the police from arresting her.


I'll take this as travel advice. Eek. Best of luck to your friend.


Thanks guys & girls it's been wonderful. We have located two lawyers thanks to your help, one of them was willing to take the case warts and all but not currently in Delhi, the other is in Delhi and also willing to take the case. I've put the lawyers in touch with her, Delhi police and each other.

We would not have been able to do this without HN on such short notice, thank you all very much.


It sometimes amazes me that despite all the debates about any "decline in quality" and despite the continuously expanding community, when the chips are down we can still band together.


I agree-- and yet, the most upvoted comments are the sideline comments discussing meta-aspects of the search, while the posts suggesting actual lawyers, or offering specific help, languish at the bottom.

I just went through and upvoted everybody who offered concrete help or advice.


What you see here on HN is a shadow of what is happening to my inbox and phone, it's been ringing off the hook with people offering financial support and legal advice as well as lawyers offering their services. Incredible.


And I would upvote them too, if I could.

My point is not that the community isn't great. It's just that upvotes are the main currency I have to meaningfully reward individuals for their contributions (which is why you've received plenty of mine over the years).


I know exactly what you mean ... I knew I couldn't really help but wanted to comment with support. I was afraid it would add to the noise and potentially obscure the valuable parts of the conversation so I simply up-voted the parent and the useful comments within the thread. In any case, I think it's amazing how well we tend to get along ... and how well we cover the world. Someone is always awake on HN!


You are absolutely right, on HN upvotes counts, I too upvoted all those who actually offered help.


Band together around two popular members of the community.

Have someone that has been around for few years but just has 100 of karma post a similar call for help and see how many upvotes will receive.


I have seen HN display generosity on occasion to perfect strangers and throwaway accounts.


Sure, but would that someone turn to HN in such a case? Still, I expect you'd be surprised, especially if the account is a few years old.

Hey but let's hope we won't have to find out, huh? :)


It always helps to know influential people, whether on HN, or elsewhere!


Agreed.

Watching this happening was amazing. HN, respect!


> It sometimes amazes me that despite all the debates about any "decline in quality" and despite the continuously expanding community, when the chips are down we can still band together.

Fortunately we haven't "declined" so much that we're no longer able to see the difference between endless complaining about something relatively inconsequential and a genuine call for help :)


Hey Jacques,

I just saw the threat right now. I'm based out of Delhi. I'm glad you have found a lawyer. But I know two good ones in Delhi, and will generally be _very_ willing to help. I'm reachable at +91-98682-21372 and paras1987@gmail.com

Please feel free to pass my details to your friends. I'd love to help anyway I can.

-Paras


Since this looks like a case of corruption do consider involving India Against Corruption.

http://www.indiaagainstcorruption.org/


It is to some extent. Normally I'd be very much in favor of doing that but in this particular case the main protagonist has for now more to lose than to gain from becoming cause celebre. The best thing in this particular case (which has only losers) is for the whole thing to go away and for her to continue her life. Corruption fighting is high priority but not as high as her continued safety and well-being.


Jacques, I think you misunderstood me. Since, corruption is one of the key motive of this case you could piggyback on IAC's stand against corruption to get your problem solved. However, since media expose in an issue (which I did not know about earlier) it does not sound like a good idea. Please keep us updated. I have no political connections in Delhi but can help you with information.


I saw in one of the comments that both of you are from different places (UK and Ned), still you could help your friend in India. Kinda makes my belief in Internet media more concrete


I did a quick real time news search for Delhi kidnapping news but nothing came up.

Why are you holding back information deliberately? You say she was completely innocent, then why hide the story?

We all at HN, have no idea what the case is. So how can you expect help in such circumstances? We all can make a much bigger difference, if we know the true story behind.

Get the story to the Front Page, someone will push to the right person and the media will act fast.


> Why are you holding back information deliberately?

Because her privacy matters a great deal to us. This is not just any ordinary person and it would harm rather than help if this blew up in the media.

> You say she was completely innocent, then why hide the story?

Because even people that are innocent are not always benefiting from having their plight spread out for all the world to see.

> We all at HN, have no idea what the case is.

No, you are wrong in that. There are a few HN'ers that know the real identity and some of the details behind this (pg for one). And I'm pretty sure they'd agree that keeping her identity a secret is of paramount importance with respect to her safety.

> So how can you expect help in such circumstances?

Well, I gambled (rightly it appears) that HN would be capable of judging for itself whether or not we were sincere in our appeal for help and that we had weighed properly the decision to keep her identity a secret.

> We all can make a much bigger difference, if we know the true story behind.

No, you could not. It would satisfy some curious people but it would not make a material difference. If this situation is not resolved in a positive way in short order and with the main protagonists' permission we may still have to do this, but if and when that happens it means we have lost the current battle.

> Get the story to the Front Page, someone will push to the right person and the media will act fast.

It may come to that yet. Better hope with us that it will not come to that.


Indian police and people with access to political power usually pick people up on saturday or sunday when the courts are closed. This is the usual trick. A day in an Indian police lockup is not something you can stomach easily. If they are looking for you on a friday, it means political power and possible threats, beatings, forced confessions; hide and move away with family immediately until monday! If they are looking for you on other days, relax.


It's not just India. The FBI and the DEA love to make arrests on Friday after 10 am for this reason. The next court hearing is Monday morning.


Your reply is yet another "Tu quoque America!" post that is becoming far too predictable and common on HN. The US is not the subject of the OP's comment.

Clarification: My comment probably appears to be a knee-jerk defense of America. I'm a libertarian, and, as an example, I'm a huge fan of Radley Balko and his expose of no-knock raids and other many government civil liberty abominations, just so you know where I stand. I also believe the DEA should be shut down, and that many people in the justice department should probably be in prison. But my point is that power corrupts, universally. It is not isolated, obviously, to the US.


I disagree. He's not saying that this somehow excuses the Indian behavior, or that Americans are worse. He's simply pointing out that this is a widespread problem. I personally found the post interesting and am glad he posted it. It is definitely not a "tu quoque" as you say.


The difference being, in the US the police are only likely to give you a hard time if they think you are guilty. In India, they are only likely to do so if someone bribed them to.


Which is not any better for the detainee, because he still gets treated badly by someone who thinks he's entitled to doing so.

A police officer is not qualified to determine who is guilty. Only to determine who is suspect. All suspects are to be treated alike. And of course, we can all come up with blatantly obvious cases where someone is guilty of some heinous crime. The point is that there are many more cases where the crime is less noteworthy, the guilt is less obvious and someone still gets treated badly before his guilt has been established.


If you're detained, it's because they think you're guilty.

And many times this means they think you're guilty of things that shouldn't be a crime in the first place, like possessing drugs.


That makes me feel so much better.


Sounds like this is exactly what happened. She was picked up yesterday.


Good lawyers don't advertise (always a golden rule) but are often mentioned in searchable online media. A good technique (imho) for lawyer selection in any given major city is to collect a list of the most prominent lawyers in the specialization area of interest, and interview all of them. There will usually be fewer than a dozen candidates if you've done decent research & narrowing down. At some point in the interview ask who they would personally recommend as a lawyer if they couldn't recommend themselves. Then see where the answers converge.

This does take a few days and in a country like India might take even longer. So if you need somebody in a few hours it could be useless advice. If you can find somebody for initial representation and then switch to somebody else later, it might be more applicable.


Thanks. I think in the short term we just need someone there right now. In the long term this sounds like a good strategy, if there is a long term...


I am not sure if this http://www.vakilsearch.com ('vakil' means a lawyer in Hindi/Urdu) can provide lawyers to represent in a criminal case but you can just give it a shot for initial representation


Hi Daniel,

My uncle is an ex MLA (member of legislative assembly) and is lawyer by background. He may be able to help. I have spoken to my dad about this, and he will connect you.

Please call him @ [redacted].

Best of Luck!

Sumit


Not such a great idea to post phone numbers like this. I think you should remove it now that some arrangements appear to have been made.


never a good idea to post other people's details online. mail them privately instead.


jm2c.

Why not remove your uncle's contact details from here and PM to OP, rather!


I have also reached out to a few people - in the human rights/criminal law space - in Delhi. Will update you as soon as I hear back.


Thank you!


Next time you need a lawyer urgently in India urgently, walk upto a court house. There'll be swarms of lawyers coming your way. Talk to a few of them in a group. Pick the one you feel comfortable. Lawyers are under employed in India, except for a select few who graduate to there own offices and staff. The rest ply the court houses looking for work.


We are not in India. Daniel is in the UK and I'm in the Netherlands. We are trying to do this by remote control which is quite challenging. If we could have walked to the courthouse I'm fairly sure we would have done that.


Not a good idea. Most of these lawyers are incompetent or are freshers with little experience. Good lawyers are hard to find and they go by references.


Harish here. I am calling some people up. In case I find something, will send you an email on the email ID posted on your profile. Take care.


Thank you!


For those, like me, who have no connections to India, please let us know if there's something else we can do to help. Including, if you need it, asking us to contribute money - I'm sure many here would help good members of this community.


Just a suggestion, but you might consider trying to get the news media to cover the case: if the general public are aware of the details, its more difficult for the police/judiciary to push through nonsensical judgements on a bogus case (note the case of Aseem Trivedi, for instance). In essence, they can't make a moderately well known person or case 'disappear', as it were.


In any other case I would happily follow this advice, in this particular case we will use that only as a means of last resort and let's hope that it will never come to that.


I dont know any criminal lawyers but I am currently in Delhi and if there is anything else I can help with please let me know. My email is in my profile info.


Thank you. There may be something you can do, though not sure what yet - I've passed your email to Jacques (he's coordinating the action).


@swombat, @jacquesm : I've mailed you details for a senior criminal lawyer at Delhi. Do check. Let me know if I can help in any other way.


Jacques, I had sent these questions in a mail to you. However, the answers should help others in identifying the appropriate lawyer.

1> What area of Criminal law this pertains to. 2> Is she an Indian? 3> Is she looking for professional representation or someone in personal capacity. Based on this we can look up one from a prominent firm or not.


Hello, see my answers above:

- It is not a good idea to discuss the details of the case right now. There is a police case, it is completely made up as an excuse to get hold of the person we're talking about (I've seen the case filing). The main charge is kidnapping, and she's the victim - but somehow she still gets arrested. India for the win.

- She's an Indian national.

- We need a professional, influential, trustworthy lawyer and are willing to pay (reasonable fees).

Thanks for your help.


I am also working a few contacts but as far as I can remember right now none of them is based in Delhi.

edit: Two guys in Delhi are actively looking.


Thank you.



Thanks!


Khaitan & Co. have an office in Delhi. Here's their Mumbai contact:

anshul.prakash@ khaitanco. com rabindra.Jhunghunwala@ khaitanco. com


Thank you. We really need speed, email is probably too slow, mobile numbers?

(Apologies to you and anybody else in this thread for being brief, too little sleep and too much to do).

j.


If you think the situation applies, PUCL (http://pucl.org) might be an option. See the contact page for phone numbers. If nothing else, they should know some good lawyers.


wow.. i don't understand what is happening here, what is the case about. at least a brief description.

EDIT: after reading thru the comments, i'm so sorry about the issue. My uncle is supreme court lawyer, but hey,also read that arrangements have been made. Good luck! and any major changes, you can reply to this post, i can strike back in no time with a trusted lawyer.


Thank you very much, if you can drop me a line at j@ww.com I'd be obliged.


Sent.


You can maybe try http://www.akosha.com/

They are mainly into consumer complaints but should know good lawyers and they are based out of Delhi.


Posted on Facebook, I urge the rest of you to do the same. I have a lot of international friends so hopefully I'll be able to help too.


Thank you!


Geen probleem ;). Hope you manage to find some good representation!


If you're a redditor, please upvote http://www.reddit.com/r/india/comments/12m11h/ask_hn_help_hn... (not my post)


Usually, before we get a lawyer to agree to represent anyone, and in this case, a foreigner in India (EDIT: Indian national), the lawyer should be briefed on the skeleton of the case at least before he can take an informed decision, whether to take on the case.

You need to provide some cursory details of the case, before this gains some amount of traction at least.


No, I should really not provide any 'cursory details' here, you are basically going to have to trust my word on that this case is very complex and involves a lot of backstory that could only hurt, not help if I start blabbing about it in public.

Those details are between her and her hopefully soon to be found lawyer, who can then decide if he/she wants to take the case.

I'm sure the general public would love to hear all about these details (you could make a cliff-hanger mini series about it and write a best-seller) but the case isn't served by creating either a public spectacle beyond what I've already done here (a risk in itself but we have no time).


Dude, If I stepped on your toes, I am sorry. I should have clarified what I meant by cursory details (if I had realised this would be the response, I would have written this earlier, honestly!). Something along these lines as provided by @akshat above:

1> What area of Criminal law this pertains to.

2> Is she an Indian?

3> Is she looking for professional representation or someone in personal capacity.

> Based on this we can look up one from a prominent firm or not.

OK, that was all. The reason I tried to write it here rather than PM, is because others could also benefit from this kind of info when talking to their own respective contacts/lawyers/colleagues.

Again, I want to clarify that I was not digging for the kind of details that you seem to have implied on the reply. And sorry if I upset anyone.

EDIT: @swombat has already replied to these questions above when I was composing my reply to jacquesm.

Thanks, @swombat


I don't think you stepped on Jacques' toes. We're just pretty stressed about this and so being brief (I'm now replying to messages/social media and gathering leads while he tries to ring up lawyers).

I answered those points now in my post:

- It is not a good idea to discuss the details of the case right now. There is a police case, it is completely made up as an excuse to get hold of the person we're talking about (I've seen the case filing). The main charge is kidnapping, and she's the victim - but somehow she still gets arrested. India for the win.

- She's an Indian national.

- We need a professional, influential, trustworthy lawyer and are willing to pay (reasonable fees).


Lawyers certainly help. However you could also have someone contact a local women's rights group. Also put the word out to some of her Indian friends. May be someone could get some "political" help to get things going. That's how it works in India. If you know someone really rich in Delhi, they could also help. Most likely they know a M.L.A or an M.P or someone high up in the police. I hope fellow HN'rs with political contacts in Delhi would reach out to you.


no worries, 3 hours of sleep and too much to do.


We can't provide the details right now as they are very personal to the person concerned. The HNer we're trying to help is not a foreigner, she's Indian. The case is completely made up (I've seen the case papers).


What you are describing is quite similar to this - http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-01/india... - any thoughts? Is this the same girl we are talking about? Sounds like it is.


No. Btw, that story is a fake by all accounts.


Have you contacted her family? She is an Indian national, does she have contacts there?


Without going into details, the first one is not an option and the answer to the second question is no, she has very few contacts.


Has she got dual citizenship? That could be one avenue to look at


No.


Jethmalani,Ram (Sr.) ph: 011-23792287,011-23794651 fax:011-23010944

http://www.scbaindia.org/Web/aspx/directory.aspx


Top notch guy, but unless you know him or have any political weight, he's not going to take the case.


Besides, in the past, he had shown great interest in playing the devil's advocate. Doesn't do low profile cases.


I'm going to guess that this is the person who started Ask HN.


(The proverbial 'that guy')

Delhi police or CBI (whomsoever) is handling the case is one of the best in the nation. So, let me do my bit (because no one else has raised any voice).

The post portrays Delhi and India in a bad light. I am pretty sure, the case is NOT as dramatic as it is being described (or the victim not as innocent) - An Indian national with very little contacts who is about to land (or is in custody from yesterday?)...

That said (and realizing that I am on the losing side), I appreciate the quick thinking you guys are doing to help the person, and personally I have huge respect for the well known names (Daniel & Jacques - who are often on the front page) and that you are losing your sleep over this!

Downvotes are welcome!


I'm an Indian.

I've been arrested and spent the night in the lockup because I said something that an MLA took as an insult. No charges, released the next day without any explanation.

Don't try to put lipstick on a pig.


They may or may not be the best in the nation, but having seen the case with my own eyes and knowing the person in question and the backstory very well, I can assure you that:

1) the case is totally made up (to a truly ridiculous extent), has been so for the six months since it came to existence, and has been handled with complete disregard for truth or any attempt to seek the truth

2) this is indeed very dramatic for the person in question

3) the person in question is completely innocent

4) the people behind this made-up case are closely connected to and influential with the police in Delhi.

And yes, you're right that it does make the Indian police system seem very corrupt. I'd be ashamed of it if I was Indian.


> I'd be ashamed of it if I was Indian.

Well, as an Indian, I agree that we have very corrupt systems, at all levels. But when someone commits an act of corruption, you've got to realize he's doing it because he's selfish and not because of any other reason. So am I angry about it? Yes. Should that make me ashamed of being an Indian? Definitely not. As long as I am doing what is right, I have nothing to be ashamed of.

What if the same situation were to occur to me?

Then my anger would better be directed towards the person/people responsible, because Indian constitution never gives a powerful man previlege over a commoner, nor does it validate corruption. Except that one phrase, I don't object to anything else. I don't need to be ashamed of what evil some bastards are doing, just because we share the same nationality

PS: sorry for the long reply. I waited till the actual issue was resolved so this wouldn't draw the focus away


Being ashamed of "it" (corruption, handling of the case) and being ashamed of being an Indian seem to be extremely far removed from each other.

If nobody is ashamed of the process of law in your country, then change will probably be a long time coming.


> I'd be ashamed of it if I was Indian.

Oh get over yourself. How many abuses of power and privilege do we see in the UK and the USA. Try to keep your racist insinuations out of what might be an admirable attempt to help someone.


> How many abuses of power and privilege do we see in the UK and the USA.

Without delving into some kind of pointless comparison of national judicial/police systems, I would much prefer to be arrested by a US policeman than by an Indian one, and that's saying a lot, considering my rather low opinion of the US legal system.

I don't think I'm being racist by making an observation on a system based on a number of reports by people who live there and have interacted with that system. Quit throwing names about.


How does race even come into the picture? Is the incompetence of a judicial system not something the citizens of that country should be concerned about? No one is claiming that the country is racially inferior just because the system is broken. If you are a citizen, it is your freaking responsibility to clean up your crap.

(Yes, to address your "But but America" point, I think American citizens should feel ashamed about shit that happens here. That doesn't excuse or lessen the responsibility that Indian citizens should have about their country.)


Ek chori upar se seena chori. saalon sharam nahi aati tumhe hn par gand daal rakha hai.ab utar gaya ye post frontpage se achcha hi hua kyunki ispar comments ne mughe bahut embarass kiya hai ye yahaan par.kar lo bkchodi saalon. indians se vakyahi mein kuch nahi ho sakta. bejatti kara dete ho sab ke sab dikha di apni akal. The OP has posted it on the most credible forum online. Just do what you can do to help out and shut up.


Maybe the sentence would have been a bit less sensitive had Daniel used "if I were a citizen of India" instead of "Indian", in order to remove the possible racial interpretation.


Indian is not a race :-)


apologies for my ignorance :(


> I am pretty sure, the case is NOT as dramatic as it is being described (or the victim not as innocent)

You are 100% wrong on this, but you're going to have to trust me. I realize that for a 'facts and gory detais' hungry world that is not an easy thing to do but in this particular case I'm going to have to ask you to do just that.


Please don't bait other users by inviting them to downmod you.

See http://ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

PS: workingdriver: strangely, your account seems to be hell banned.


Do you have inside knowledge of this case, or are you "sure" that the case is not as described simply because you can't believe that the police could ever behave this way? If the latter, this is a pretty crappy post to make.


> Do you have inside knowledge of this case

No, he does not.


>I am pretty sure, the case is NOT as dramatic as it is being described (or the victim not as innocent)

Surely you realize how asinine it is to make a claim of being "pretty sure" with further emphasis in relation to something which you necessarily know nothing about?

You're trying to paint yourself as some kind of downvote martyr for "speaking up" here.

I'd expect the downvotes aren't for speaking up so much as they're for being stupidly assumptive and preemptively dismissive of anyone against your baseless assertion.


Delhi Police or CBI is best in the nation ? Really ? Since when ?

Whatever little experience I have with Delhi police, their behavior is only a little better than animals. CBI as of today remains one of the most discredited institutions.

This post does portray India in bad light but looking at our police system we probably deserve that.




Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: