Kerala

Lawyer-judicial officers stand-off worsens in Kerala

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Advocate files complaint of verbal abuse and assault 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 identified as 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 have forwarded the petition to Ms. Mohan’s superiors for further action. The High Court sanction is required 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 FIR stated that the 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 the chamber.

The FIR 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 Thiruvananthapuram Bar.

In 2016, a set of lawyers assaulted journalists in the court of the Vigilance judge and 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 has also spotlighted the “toxic atmosphere” women judicial officers reportedly face in courtrooms. The Kerala High Court has registered a case on its own in connection with the “assault”. The Kerala Judicial Officers association has thrown its weight behind Ms. Mohan.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:36:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/lawyer-judicial-officers-stand-off-worsens-in-kerala/article30122715.ece

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