Published: 21st February 2020
Karnataka High Court directs the Hubballi police to protect advocates appearing for three Kashmiri students
The division bench said that it is the duty of the police to ensure constitutional rights of accused. If advocates are not allowed to represent, it is the violation of constitutional rights
The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the Hubbali-Dharwad Police Commissioner to give protection to the advocates who wish to appear for three Kashmiri students who have been arrested for raising pro-Pakistan slogans. The division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Hemant Chandangoudar issued this direction after hearing the public interest litigation filed by advocate BT Venkatesh and several others.
The executive committee of the Bar Association, Hubballi, resolved on February 15, 2020 that no members of the Bar should file vakalat on behalf of the accused students of KLE Engineering College in Hubballi. The Association has also resolved to request the State Bar Council to urge all Bar Associations to request advocates not to file vakalats on behalf of the accused. Questioning the legality of these resolutions, senior counsel Prof Ravivarma Kumar, representing the petitioners, also drew the attention of the court on assault on the accused in court premises.
On hearing the petition, the bench said, in Mohammed Rafi v/s State of Tamil Nadu case, the Apex Court held that such resolutions are fully illegal and against all traditions of Bar and ethics. Moreover such resolution tends to curtail rights of accused to have the advocate of their choice, it said. The bench also noted that, in view of the resolution, lawyer is not available for accused and such resolution is interference in the administration of justice and it is to be examined. The bench said, "Our attention is invited to rules framed by the Bar Council of India under standards of professional conduct and Rule 15 is relevant."
In the petition, is it pointed out that on February 17, 2020, when accused are produced before the court, they are not represented by advocates. The photographs produced along with the petition shows that accused were assaulted in court premises. Therefore, some members of Bar ready to appear collectively for the accused. Referring to this, the bench said that the members of the Bar, who are filing application for bail, must be protected by the police. "Even the members of Bar desires to appear for accused needs protection from police. It is the duty of the police to ensure constitutional rights of accused. If advocates are not allowed to represent, it is the violation of constitutional rights of accused, it said. Therefore, we direct the Advocate or Advocates who wish to appear for accused to file bail application or vakalat, to inform the Police Commissioner of Hubballi-Dharwad. On receiving the information, the Commissioner should ensure complete protection to advocates right from entry into the city to the court," the bench said.
Reconsider resolution: The bench has also directed the petitioners to forward the Apex Court's judgements, including of one in Mohammed Rafi v/s State of Tamil Nadu, to the Bar Association to reconsider its resolution, as it appeared to be law laid down by Apex Court. "The necessary steps by Bar Association is bound to ensure that its members follow the ethics framed by the Bar Council of India. If Bar Association refuses to reconsider the resolution, the said conduct will be examined while hearing the petition," the bench said while issuing notice to the State Government, DG and IGP, Hubballi Bar Association and others. Asking the office bearers of the Bar Association to implead as respondents, the bench has granted liberty to the petitioners' advocate to move the court if adequate protection is not granted to advocates to represent the accused. A further hearing will be held on February 28, 2020.