‘State Bar Council could pass a resolution in this regard'

The Karnataka State Bar Council could pass a resolution requesting the High Court as well as the National Commission for Women to look into the suggestion of having a panel of people to decide cases that came up in family courts, senior advocate of the High Court of Karnataka Pramila Nesargi said here on Monday.

Ms. Nesargi was responding to a comment by advocate Ranjan Rao at the regional advocates' conference organised here.

Mr. Rao said that cases that came up in family courts were “more of a social nature than legal” and suggested that perhaps a social worker or counsellor could assist the judge when hearing the cases.

To this, Ms. Nesargi said that she agreed with the idea and such a system was in place in countries such as France where a panel comprising a judge, a social worker and a mental health expert decided cases of family disputes.

She said that the Bar Council could pass a resolution in this regard and send copies of it to the National Commission for Women and the High Court as well. She appreciated the Family Courts Complex in Maharashtra, which she said provided facilities for child care.

Ms. Nesargi said that “sensitisation was a must for judges (dealing with) matrimonial cases”. Giving examples, Ms. Nesargi said that she knew a judge who refused a restraining order to a woman to prevent her husband from marrying off their five-year-old and seven-year-old daughters.

Ms. Nesargi said that the woman was subsequently thrown out of her house by her husband for approaching the court.

Ms. Nesargi was critical of the media for being “insensitive” to women against whom crimes had been committed and their “sensational” reporting of such instances.

Earlier, advocate Avik Biswas spoke about the intricacies of the Information Technology Act 2000 and the role of lawyers. He underscored the importance of having a science background while dealing with subjects such as information technology and intellectual property rights.

Mr. Biswas said that under the Information Technology Act, leaking of sensitive information that was given in good faith to an institution attracted criminal liability. Illustrating with an example, Mr. Biswas said that if the HIV status of a student was somehow revealed from private records of an educational institution, then the fact of the disclosure, provided that it was proved that the organisation failed in taking steps to protect that information, was sufficient to attract criminal liability on the institution.

He said that the Centre's recent attempts to “pre-censor” online content would not stand legal scrutiny as the IT Act did not allow pre-censorship of online content. However, the government retained powers to order internet service providers and websites to remove content in the interests of public good.

He said that as long as service providers or websites did not alter the content posted by users, they could not be held liable for the actions of the end users.

Giving an example, he said that social networking site Facebook could not be held liable for a cartoon of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee uploaded by an end user.

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