Karnataka High Court Directs State Bar Council To Afford Hearing To Advocate Accused Of Sexually Harassing Female Lawyer, Quashes Suspension

Mustafa Plumber

8 Jan 2024 10:47 AM GMT

  • Karnataka High Court Directs State Bar Council To Afford Hearing To Advocate Accused Of Sexually Harassing Female Lawyer, Quashes Suspension

    The Karnataka High Court has set aside an order of the State Bar Council (KSBC) suspending an advocate from practising in any Courts of the country, for allegedly sexually harassing a female lawyer.A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna allowed the petition filed by H Manjunath and remitted the matter back to the Council to consider the objections of the petitioner that he has to file...

    The Karnataka High Court has set aside an order of the State Bar Council (KSBC) suspending an advocate from practising in any Courts of the country, for allegedly sexually harassing a female lawyer.

    A single judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna allowed the petition filed by H Manjunath and remitted the matter back to the Council to consider the objections of the petitioner that he has to file on or before January 10.

    A female lawyer had lodged a sexual harassment complaint against the petitioner in September last year. A notice was issued to the petitioner on September 21 and he then sought 10 to 14 days time to submit his explanation. The Council waited for 30 days and then passed the impugned order.

    The petitioner argued that though there was a delay on his part but, the Council could not have suspended his practice without affording a reasonable opportunity to state his defence. Further, he contended that the complaint itself is not maintainable as a complaint of sexual harassment against a co-advocate ought to be placed before the Committee constituted under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.

    The Council opposed the plea, contending that the petitioner was afforded adequate opportunity, which he has not availed of.

    The bench on going through the impugned order however, said, β€œThe contents of the order no doubt would result in serious consequences to the petitioner both civil and professional. Therefore, the petitioner ought to have been afforded an opportunity to submit his defence in the light of the allegations being of nature that would result in serious consequences. Therefore, I deem it appropriate to grant the petitioner one more opportunity upto 10.01.2024 to file his objections before the Council.”

    Accordingly it allowed the petition.

    Appearance: H Manjunath, party in person.

    Advocate Nataraj G for R-1.

    Advocate Mahesh Arkalgud for R2.

    Advocate Anu Chengappa FOR POSH COMMITTEE.

    Citation No: 2024 LiveLaw (Kar) 10

    Case Title: H Manjunath AND Karnataka State Bar Council & ANR

    Case No: Writ Petition No 27909 OF 2023

    Click Here To Read/Download Order

    Next Story