High Court gives them a week to file objections

The Karnataka High Court on Monday ordered issue of notices to district and taluk-level Bar associations in connection with a public interest litigation (PIL) petition which sought a direction for initiation of legal action against advocates for boycotting court proceedings despite Supreme Court banning it and framing a rule in this regard.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice K. Sreedhar Rao and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer passed the order while hearing the petition filed by social activist Vishwanath Swami, who complained about the boycotting of court proceedings after the violence on the city civil court complex in Bangalore on March 2, 2012.

The Bench said that the notices should be served through the Chief Ministerial Offices of the district and taluk courts.

During the hearing, the Bench pointed out that it would have to alert all Bar associations as they did not have an apex body in the State, and the Karnataka State Bar Council had the power to only initiate action against individual advocates based on complaints of misconduct.

Meanwhile, senior counsel S.S. Naganand, who appeared for the petitioner, pointed out that in many instances the call for boycott was given by Bar associations on issues or disputes related to individual advocates and not when the dignity, integrity and independence of the Bar/Bench were at stake, which the Supreme Court described as the “rarest of the rare cases”.

As per Supreme Court’s verdict the courts could ignore a maximum a day’s abstention of advocates from court proceedings in such cases.

Mr. Naganand also pointed out that offenders of law were not afraid of court nowadays as in most cases the accused were not convicted in three or four months. “And the lawyers are least afraid of the courts…”, he said.

Copy not served

It was also brought to the notice of the Bench that though the Advocates’ Association, Bangalore (AAB), was “served” with the copy of the court’s notice in 2012 itself, no one represented it in the court.

The AAB office is on the first floor of the High Court building.

At that time, association president K.N. Subba Reddy and general secretary A.P Ranganath entered the Court Hall, and Mr. Reddy told the Bench that “the court’s notice was not properly served to the association”.

Mr. Reddy (who was not in advocates’ robes) told the Bench that the Supreme Court was examining the issues related to the violence on the court complex and hence the High Court need not go into it.

Justice Rao orally told him that this PIL plea was related to implementing the apex court’s directives on initiating action against advocates who boycott court proceedings.

To this, Mr. Reddy said: “You [court] can declare the boycott as illegal. The advocates will still boycott courts…what you [court] can do in such instances…”

However, Justice Rao said, “We will tell in our judgements what we will do”, and asked Mr. Ranganath to accept the notice. The court gave them a week to file objections and adjourned further hearing till February 4.

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