The Mysuru Bar association has decided not to represent a former student of Mysuru University who is facing sedition charges for holding a “Free Kashmir” placard during a protest. Responding to media reports of the Mysuru Bar's decision, a group of lawyers in Bengaluru have put out a resolution condemning the resolution.
Nalini Balakumar is an ex student of Mysuru University, currently studying in another college and held a “Free Kashmir” placard during a protest in Mysuru on January 8, organised by Dalit Students’ Association and Mysore University Research Students Association.
Mysuru Bar Association president, S Anand Kumar said, “Our members submitted a requisition, requesting none of our lawyers represent Nalini (who displayed 'Free Kashmir' placard during protest against JNU Violence, at Mysuru University). We discussed and decided not to represent or provide legal services to the person involved in anti-national activities.”
Responding to this, a group of Bengaluru lawyers in their statement said, “We, the undersigned lawyers, strongly condemn such decision of the Association as not only being against professional ethics and the duties of lawyers under the Bar Council of India Rules, but also as being antithetical to the values embedded in the Constitution of India. Every person has the fundamental right to be represented in a Court of law and any attempt to prevent or subvert such right is a blatant attack on the ideals of the Constitution.” The statement went on to demand that the Mysuru Bar withdraw their decision.
The lawyer who was part of the bail hearing, Pruthvi, has withdrawn from the case following the controversy. Nalini had approached a sessions court for bail and she had been given anticipatory bail on condition that she would not leave Mysuru. There are two cases against her, one filed suo moto by the Jayalakshmipuram police, and then by the Registrar of Mysuru University. The Second Additional District and Sessions Court has adjourned the hearing for January 20.
However, even though the Mysuru lawyers have refused to be a part of the case, sources say that Nalini does have legal representation.
Deccan Herald reported that Marideviah, the student union leader of UoM (University of Mysuru) Researchers Association, also named in the FIR, has not been arrested by the police.
The student had come forward earlier to give a statement about the poster. “I want to clarify regarding the placard ‘Free Kashmir’ that I was holding at the protest organised at the University of Mysore on January 8. I was trying to bring notice to the Internet shutdown which has been imposed in the valley through the placard. From August 5th, 2019, about 156 days since the abrogation of article 370, there has been an Internet blockade which has resulted in the silencing of Kashmir. We haven’t heard from them for 5 months and 2 days," Nalini had said.