Anti-Dinakaran campaign turns violent in HC

Irate lawyers manhandle Chief Justice and lock two other judges in room

 
Under siege: Agitating advocates gather outside the High Court in protest against Chief Justice P D Dinakaran in Bangalore on Monday. DH photoAdding to the high drama, two other judges were locked in for nearly an-hour-and-half and a mediaperson assaulted. The chief justice, already under attack for alleged malfeasance, was jostled in a melee, when he arrived at one of the courtrooms to secure the release of Justices V Gopala Gowda and B V Nagarathna. This is the first time that the Karnataka High Court witnessed such levels of behaviour and violence.

The two judges were locked up by the advocates. Later, Registrar General R B Budihal wrote to City Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari that the chief justice was manhandled along with the two judges. Dinakaran sustained a minor injury—a bleeding cut on his left hand.

The Advocates Association of Bangalore (AAB) had passed a resolution calling for the boycott of work on Monday to protest against the chief justice sitting through court proceedings when allegations of land grabbing and corruption are being investigated by the Supreme Court collegium. The High Court on Saturday granted an interim stay on the resolution, but the AAB went ahead with the boycott.

Justice Dinakaran, who was sitting in courtroom in the morning, was interrupted by nearly 150 advocates led by AAB president K N Puttegowda, asking him not to conduct the hearings. As the advocates disrupted proceedings with repeated sloganeering, the chief justice tried to reason, saying: “What sin have I committed? Where can I go? I am also one among you. I have my own constitutional commitment. Allow me to discharge the same.”

But in the face of unrelenting protests, he left the courtroom. The advocates later turned their ire against two judges who were hearing cases in another court hall.
Unable to persuade them to suspend the proceedings, the High Court lawyers, who were joined by the city civil court advocates by then, resorted to several disturbing acts like singing the national anthem, singing bhajans and songs, throwing books and paper missiles.

Eventually, the increasingly adamant crowd, locked the judges inside by shutting the doors and placing benches against them and turning off the lights.

It was finally at the intervention of the chief justice and with help from the police that the judges were allowed to leave. It was at this juncture that the surging crowd of advocates in the corridor, chanting slogans, reportedly manhandled the judges.

In his letter to the commissioner, the Registrar General has sought additional police protection for the chief justice, claiming that the incident happened in the presence of  Puttegowda, senior counsel Premila Nesargi and other AAB office-bearers.

However, Justice Dinakaran sat for the afternoon session for about half-an-hour. Later, speaking to mediapersons, the chief justice, whose court disposed 17 matters on Monday, said that the administrative work was not hampered and justice had been rendered without hurting the rights of lawyers or litigants.

In the melee, a journalist was also assaulted and another threatened for trying to film the incidents.

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