Srinagar, Feb 18: A day after lawyers thrashed three Kashmiri students, a group of 24 advocates filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Karnataka High Court seeking quashing the resolution of Hubli Bar Association prohibiting its members from appearing for accused, and prayed for transferring the sedition case from Hubli to Bengaluru city for free and fair trial.
“That the ruckus caused in the Court premises and the resolution passed by the Bar Association effectively denies the accused their right to a free trial. These turbulent conditions put the physical safety of the accused at risk and may jettison public justice hence it is just and necessary for transfer of the case from that place. The transfer of the criminal case outside of Hubli to Bengaluru city will secure a free and fair trial”, reads the petition filed by B T Venkatesh and others.
The petitioners said the resolution passed by the Hubli Bar Association is illegal, without the force of law and violates the fundamental right of the accused under Article 22(1) of the Constitution of India.
“The petitioners are all advocates practicing within the State of Karnataka. They are filing this petition as PIL, as the issues involved in this petition affect the right of legal representation of accused and the dignity of the legal profession. The issues raised herein affect the larger public interest and the fundamental right to all persons to legal representation,” reads the petition
The petitioners said the Hubli Bar resolution has resulted in the creation of an atmosphere of fear and intimidation due to which none of the advocates feel safe and secure to appear before the court. This has had a chilling effect on advocates coming forward to represent the accused, they said.
Three Kashmiri students studying Civil Engineering at KLE Institute of Technology in Karnataka on Monday were re-arrested on sedition charges and sent to judicial custody till March 2. They were first arrested on Saturday immediately after the college filed a complaint about a video in which they allegedly were chanting pro Pakistan slogans.
Earlier on Sunday, Karnataka police had released the students after they executed a bond under Section 169 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Under Section 169 of the CrPc, an accused is let off when the investigating officer is of the view that there was no sufficient evidence to produce him before a court for remand.
“There are quite a few lawyers ready to fight legal battle for the accused. But the condition in the court is not good. So we have filed a petition seeking for protection and the case is posted on Thursday,” said advocate Maitreyi Krishnan, one of the petitioners.
Ahmad, brother of one of the accused students admitted they have committed a mistake but prayed for leniency. “We appeal to the government not to take any harsh step against them. Their career is at stake,” he said.
Nasir Kheuhami, spokesperson of J&K Students Association said they condemn their statement in the harshest of words. “We urge Kashmiri students to focus on their education. We appeal all students not to write provocative things on social media which could add fuel to the fire,” he said.