A day after the Hubballi Bar Association was rapped by the Karnataka High Court for its resolution stating that its members would not represent three Kashmiri students charged with sedition, the bar association members stated that they had modified the resolution.
While the modification of the resolution was not shared with the media, the Karnataka High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Oka accepted the modification but directed the association to issue a fresh resolution and cancel the earlier resolution passed on February 15. The High Court also directed that police protection should be provided for lawyers seeking to file a bail application for the three students.
The Karnataka High Court was hearing a petition filed by advocate BT Venkatesh questioning the Hubballi Bar Association's resolution stating that it is against the rights of the accused for a defence counsel. "Barring advocates from appearing for the accused gives a bad name for the judiciary. A lawyer not allowed to approach the filing counter to apply for bail should not happen in this state," Chief Justice Abhay Oka said while hearing the case on Wednesday.
Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi informed the court on Thursday that the resolution passed on February 15 was modified. In addition, AG Navadgi stated that a fresh resolution would be passed by the bar association in Hubballi overruling the earlier resolution.
Chief Justice Abhay Oka asked the lawyers willing to appear for the accused persons to file a bail application in the magistrate court in Hubballi. He further directed the Dharwad Police Commissioner to collect names and details of advocates who protest or come in the way of lawyers filing bail application for the accused persons. He stated that the court would initiate criminal contempt proceedings against any advocates who shout slogans or prevent their colleagues from filing a bail application for the three students in Hubballi charged with sedition.
On February 15, the Hubballi Bar Association passed the resolution barring its members from appearing for three Kashmiri students from KLE Institute of Technology. The students were charged with sedition after a video of them allegedly saying 'Pakistan Zindabad' went viral earlier in the month. However, to file a bail application, lawyers are required to approach the Dharwad Principal Sessions Court after which the case will be allocated to the magistrate court in Hubballi.
When three lawyers from Bengaluru approached the registration counter at the Dharwad court on Monday, hundreds of lawyers agitated against them. "They said that they would not let us go in one piece. Such was the abuse, threats and intimidation issued to us before the court...Given the vitiated atmosphere which was worsening by the moment, we could not go to the registration/filing counter and were taken back to our vehicle. Someone threw stones from behind when the three of us and the driver were inside the car, breaking the back window, and the stones came inside the car," one of the lawyers from Bengaluru submitted in an affidavit in the High Court.