BENGALURU: No proceedings took place in the Karnataka High Court and lower courts across the state on Wednesday after thousands of lawyers boycotted the courts following a protest call given by the Karnataka State Bar Council and Advocates’ Association of Bengaluru.
Both unions had resolved to boycott court proceedings to strongly protest the recent transfer of Justice Jayant Patel from the Karnataka High Court to the Allahabad High Court, which led to his resignation.
Justice Patel, second in seniority on the bench of the Karnataka HC, was transferred as third judge of the High Court in Allahabad just a fortnight before he was due to be elevated as chief justice in Karnataka. Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee will retire on October 9.
Condemning the pre-emptive transfer and also to pressurise the Supreme Court Collegium to fill the huge vacancy of judges in the High Court, the State Bar Council had resolved to boycott court proceedings in the state. The Advocates’ Association of Bengaluru and bar associations across the state also extended support to the protest.
Association president H C Shivaramu said lawyers will soon stage a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi if the collegium did not take a decision to fill judges’ vacancies in the high court. The Karnataka HC has only 25 judges against the sanctioned strength of 62. Shivaramu said the collegium should also take note of the treatment meted out to Justice Patel and ensure this does not recur in future.
Only litigants were present in court halls and their cases had to be adjourned due to the absence of advocates. Proceedings in the city civil and sessions courts and magistrate courts were also affected.
Proceedings in the district courts too were hit across Karnataka, with hundreds of litigants returning from court rooms owing to the stir. Protest marches were taken out in several parts of the state.