The Hubli Bar Association on Tuesday submitted to the Karnataka High Court that it has withdrawn its resolution, passed on February 15, by which it had decided that none of its members would appear for the three Kashmiri students booked for sedition over alleged pro-Pakistan slogans.
In response to that , a division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi said:
"The resolution of the bar association sets a bad precedent. Calling the Kashmiri students criminals and anti-nationals when there has been no adjudication is wrong and shouldn't have been done. Everyone has the right to a fair trial and kangaroo trials are not permitted in the country."
The accused were initially arrested by the police on February 16, and released on execution of a bond under section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code. A day later they were re-arrested and since February 17, they have been in custody ever since. Their bail application was rejected by the Hubli sessions court on March 9. The accused are still to file an appeal in the high court.
The resolution of the Bar Association was challenged by Advocate B T Vekatesh and 23 other lawyers from Bengaluru. After the Advocate General, Prabhuling Navadgi personally intervened and assured of reconciliation, the officer bearers of the association personally appeared to submit that the resolution would be withdrawn.
Chief Justice Oka had then asked the office bearers to pass a resolution withdrawing or cancelling the resolution of February 15. The Court said that it will not dispose of the petition until the resolution was withdrawn.
The bench had even suggested to the bar association members that a local advocate should take up the case.
Chief Justice Oka said "It is a disturbing aspect that till now there are still no local lawyers who have come forward to represent the accused. Lawyer from outside the city representing the accused would make it difficult to administer justice."
As regards the accused being manhandled by persons inside the court premises, the bench said "The FIR in regard to the incident of assault on the students must be investigated expeditiously. If the advocates conducting the trial need protection in the future they can approach court (high court), if it is refused.
The bench observed that similar resolutions should not be passed by any other Bar Associations.
It said "The Court trusts and hopes that no associations pass any such resolutions in the future that comes in the way of administration of justice."