The Karnataka High Court has directed the Mysore District Bar Association to produce before it the resolution precluding Bar members from representing a student who was indicted for holding a “free Kashmir” poster on the Mysore University campus. This direction has been issued in a petition filed by Advocate Ramesh Naik L against the decision of Mysore Bar effectively disallowing any lawyer from taking up Nalini Balakumar’s case who was charged with sedition.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice SV Vishwajith Shetty directed the Mysore Bar to produce the resolution, if any, along with a statement of objections for passing such a resolution.
Advocate Naik in his petition stated that the Executive Committee of the Mysore District Bar passed a resolution to not file vakalatnama for Nalini stating that she was an ‘anti-national’. The Bar even, allegedly, went to the extent of displaying the copy of the resolution at multiple locations in the premises of Mysore Court Complex and even sent warning messages through print and e-mail to all advocate members to abide by the resolution or else face action.
This is not a first of its kind resolution and the High Court has dealt with a similar resolution of the Hubli Bar Association which had passed a resolution to not represent Kashmiri students for sedition over pro-Pakistani slogans. Chief Justice Oka had come down heavily on the Hubli Bar Association and the Association was forced to withdraw the resolution, as per the court’s orders.
Advocate Naik stated that many advocates raised their voices against this resolution and even approached the Karnataka Bar Council but no response was received. Hence, the petition was filed before the High Court wherein, Naik contended that “Legal profession is the noblest and dignified. It commands great honour. The practice of Advocacy has the public utility flavour. An Advocate is to do his part individually and as a member of the organized Bar to improve his profession, the Court and the law. In a free society Advocate has a responsibility of acting as an intelligent, unselfish leader of public opinion”, reported LiveLaw.
Aside from the resolution violating the Advocates Act, it also impinges upon an individual’s right to be represented by a legal practitioner under Article 22(1) of the Constitution which states as follows:
(1) No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest nor shall he be denied the right to consult, and to be defended by, a legal practitioner of his choice