HC judges leave venue as lawyers argue over note ban

An argument among lawyers over demonetisation at a Republic Day programme at the High Court of Karnataka on Thursday led Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and four other judges to walk away.

The event was organised by Advocates’ Association Bangalore where Justices Anand Byrareddy and B Manohar were chief guests. Chief Justice Mukherjee and Justices S Abdul Nazeer and B S Patil were also invited.  After the flag hoisting, H C Shivaramu, president, AAB, gave a speech that had strong political overtones. “People were left on the streets because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to demonetise notes of higher denominations. There is no doubt that the (decision’s) aim was to flush out black money but its implementation lacked proper planning,” he said.

He went on to add that every government scheme was “meaningless, painful for people and unconstitutional” if it didn’t suit the democratic set-up. “The note ban is tantamount to a major assault on the citizens of India. Former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s statement on demonetisation was the reflection of public sentiment,” he said.

The statement triggered angry reaction from the audience. Advocate N Madesh stood up and said, “This is not a political forum. Stop your lecture right away.” R Rajanna, head of the BJP’s state legal cell, also spoke up. “This is not the place to comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision. Stop your discourse.” Soon, many lawyers started shouting, “Down, Down Shivaramu.”

Stunned by the charged atmosphere, the judges preferred to leave. Later, Shivaramu insisted that he wasn’t supporting any political party while commenting on the note ban. “I didn’t speak irrelevant things. I backed some of the decisions taken by Modi. I only said that Modi should have taken advice from experts before demonetising banknotes. In this context, I said Manmohan Singh’s suggestion should have been taken.”

When contacted, AAB secretary R Puttegowda felt that Shivaramu shouldn’t have made the “political statement”. “Henceforth, before every event like the one which took place today, we will ask the speakers to present their views before our committee,” Puttegowda said.

H C Shivaramu, AAB President: 
I didn’t speak irrelevant things. I backed some of the decisions taken by Modi. I only said that Modi should have taken advice from experts before demonetising banknotes. In this context, I said Manmohan Singh’s suggestion should have been
taken.

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