30 City lawyers booked

File KPN PhotoA day after the dramatic seven-hour traffic jam triggered by a defiant road protest by advocates, the City police woke up from its apparent slumber and filed cases suo motu against 30 lawyers.

But the advocates were in mood to relent and called for a boycott of all courts across the State on Thursday to protest against the police allegedly beating up one of them on January 14. However, Karnataka High Court Chief Justice  Vikramjit Sen, during a hearing of a petition, rejected the boycott call, saying it would be a working day for the court.

On Wednesday, the Ulsoor Gate police also took up a criminal case against the advocates under the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. It is learnt that on a complaint by a police water jet driver Shivaji Rao, another case was registered at the same station.

The police have charged the lawyers for rioting, unlawful assembly, disobedience of an order by a public servant, obstructing the rightful way of the  public, wrongful restraint, assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty.

On Tuesday, hundreds of advocates went berserk, blocking traffic at the city’s nervecentre, Mysore Bank circle, KG Road. The traffic jam had a cascading effect on all roads leading to the spot, causing severe hardship to thousands of commuters.

By Tuesday night, after suspending constable Arun as demanded by the advocates, City Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji ordered registering of complaints against the ‘rowdy’ advocates.  

The lawyers held the city to ransom and attacked a BMTC bus, a police water jet vehicle and its driver. Reacting to the advocates’ court boycott decision, Law Minister S Suresh Kumar said he will meet members of the Bar Association and try to convince them to withdraw their proposed boycott.

“Thousands of people in Bangalore city have already suffered due to a protest by advocates on Tuesday. If advocates boycott court proceedings, hundreds of clients will suffer," he added.

Suresh Kumar was on an official tour to Chitradurga and Davanagere districts and returned to Bangalore Wednesday evening.

DG&IGP Shankar M Bidari confirmed receiving a 20-page report from Mirji on Tuesday’s protest. “Everyone has the right to protest but no one can cause inconvenience to the public. Advocates should also know that no one is above law,” he said. Bidari has given strict instructions and orders to Mirji to take action against anyone causing inconvenience to the public, especially if they are found blocking traffic for more than five minutes.

At a function here, Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda defended the lack of action by the police against the protesting lawyers. “Had the police taken strict against the lawyers for inconveniencing the public, you (the media) would have gone to town with banner headlines condemning the police atrocity,” he said. Gowda said his government sincerely regretted the hardship faced by the public as a result of the lawyers’ blockade.

Home Minister R Ashoka insisted that the DG&IGP and the Commissioner of City Police were capable enough of taking appropriate action in such situations. “They are responsible enough to take any action,” he said, implying that he need not dictate to them.

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