MYSURU: The Mysuru Bar Association on Tuesday decided against its member-lawyers taking up the case and appearing for Nalini Balakumar, who is facing sedition charges for holding a ‘Free Kashmir’ placard during a protest at the University of Mysore in Mysuru recently. However, the move has come under fire and received sharp criticism from a section of people in society.
Suggesting that lawyers are dutybound to represent accused, former Lokayukta Justice Santosh Hegde said, “Any advocates’ association deciding not to represent an accused is professional misconduct, in my personal opinion.
Nalini, an alumna of the University of Mysore was recently booked under IPC Sections 34 and 124 A (Sedition) by Jayalakshmipuram police. She was granted interim bail on January 10, following which, she appeared before the police and recorded her statement. Balakumar also clarified that she held the ‘Free Kashmir’ placard to spread awareness about the internet shutdown imposed in Kashmir over the past five months, and did not intend to cause any kind of hatred.
She also made it clear that she had no affiliation with any organisation, and said she was ready to cooperate with the police investigation.
However, on Monday, a few advocates of the Mysuru Bar Association submitted a memorandum to its president appealing him to pass a resolution, stating that its members should not appear or represent her on her behalf.
Following a request from its members, an executive committee meeting was held and a resolution was passed on Tuesday, where its members were told to not appear or render service to Nalini.
Confirming this development, S Ananda Kumar, President of the Mysuru Bar Association, said that a decision was taken in this regard as the accused was facing a sedition case. “So the bar association has called upon the advocates to not represent or render their services to her,” he said.
Meanwhile, many from the legal field and constitutional experts also opined that such a resolution by the bar association was illegal and is against the constitution. Commenting about such resolutions passed by the bar associations, former Supreme Court judge Justice V Gopala Gowda said, “It is a professional duty of a lawyer to render legal assistance to a client.”