Kerala

Lawyer-judicial officer stand-off worsens

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Woman lawyer files complaint against magistrate Deepa Mohan

The stand-off between lawyers and judicial officers at the district court here assumed a new dimension on Saturday with a woman advocate lodging a complaint of verbal abuse and assault against magistrate Deepa Mohan.

The police said the lawyer, Rajeshwari, had accused Ms. Mohan of having grabbed her by the scruff of her neck on Wednesday and shoved her.

The Vanchiyoor police accepted the complaint and issued Ms. Rajeshwari a receipt. They forwarded the petition to Ms. Mohan's superiors for further action. The police required High Court sanction to proceed against Ms. Mohan.

The woman magistrate had grabbed news attention after the police booked 12 lawyers on Wednesday on the charge of having stormed her courtroom and prevented her from discharging her duty.

The police stated in a court filing that lawyers had attempted to intimidate the magistrate into reviewing an order of hers cancelling the bail of a crime case suspect for threatening a prosecution witness.

When Ms. Mohan refused to heed to their demand, the lawyers "threatened to pull her out of the courtroom and beat her" and rioted in her chamber. The police stated that the lawyers had told the magistrate that they had spared her of the punishment "only because she was a woman."

The "attack" on the woman magistrate had triggered social outrage. It also called into question the conduct of individual lawyers attached to the Bar association here.

In 2016, a set of lawyers assaulted journalists in the court of the Vigilance judge. They had banned them from entering the court since. In 2018, lawyers assaulted a police officer who turned up for court duty in uniform for having arrested one of them the previous day on the charge of consuming alcohol publicly. The cases were still pending prosecution.

The incident had also spotlighted the "toxic atmosphere" women judicial officers reportedly face in courtrooms. The Kerala Judicial Officers Association has thrown its weight behind Ms. Mohan. The lawyers have moved the Bar Council against Ms. Deepa.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:55:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/lawyer-judicial-officer-stand-off-worsens/article30124612.ece

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