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The Kerala Police has registered an FIR against twelve lawyers including members of the Trivandrum Bar Association for allegedly gheraoing a woman judge in her own chambers.
In the wake of the incident, the Kerala Judicial Officers Association has reportedly sought the interference of the High Court in the matter.
The peculiar incident that triggered the alleged gheraoing was an irregular court proceeding that was adopted by the Judicial Magistrate (JM) Deepa Mohan.
As per reports, it was alleged that Mohan had cancelled the bail bond of an accused in a motor vehicle accident case. Infuriated by this, Trivandrum Bar Association (TBA) President KP Jayachandran and Secretary Pachalloor Jayakrishnan, along with the certain other lawyers, went to the Magistrate’s chambers. It was alleged that Mohan was locked in her chambers for about one hour.
However, Jayakrishnan had a contrary point of view. Narrating his version of the chain of events to Bar & Bench, he said,
“All the issues that have been stated is because of the Media. The media has been stating things falsely. Nothing has happened here. Infact the media and the Bar Association are not in good terms due to an incident that happened in 2016. In a particular case, the Judicial Magistrate, Deepa Mohan did an irregular thing. She cancelled the bail bond of an accused and took him into custody. It is an illegal proceeding.
She had to report before the police or she had to get a written complaint from the witness. She has not done it, that’s what happened…And thereafter the advocate who was appearing for the accused came to us (TBA) and we went to the chamber of the Magistrate. We entered her chamber with her permission. As office bearers of the Bar Association, we are bound to go with that Advocate. We asked her what had happened and we came back cordially.
Thereafter, the advocate filed a bail application before the District Court. The Hon’ble District Court allowed that application. The bail was granted and the accused was set free. The next day, she filed a complaint alleging that we entered her chamber without her permission, [that we] had locked the chamber and threatened her. That was the complaint given by her to the police…That is a false allegation.”
The Bar Association had also called for a boycott of Mohan’s court after she cancelled the bail bond of the accused. Lamenting the “inexperience” on the part of the Magistrate, Jayakrishnan went on to say,
“The root cause of all this is that the judicial magistrate is not having practical experience as an advocate….In earlier days, a person who wanted to be a magistrate had to practise for 5 years as an advocate. But that requirement was removed by the Hon’ble Court.
Nowadays, inexperienced people are coming, these sorts of things are happening, and we, the advocates, as well as the clients, are suffering a lot.”
Jayakrishnan’s objections notwithstanding, the Chief Judicial Magistrate forwarded Mohan’s written complaint to the police. The twelve lawyers have subsequently been booked under Section 353 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with assault to deter a public servant from discharge of her duty. Also among the charges are those pertaining to unlawful assembly, rioting, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement.
Update: Bar Council of Kerala issues notice Judicial Magistrate Deepa Mohan
In an odd turn of events, the Kerala Bar Council has issued a notice dated November 30, asking Judicial Magistrate Deepa Mohan to respond to a complaint that she did not suspend her legal practice when she joined the judicial service, contrary to the provisions of the Advocates’ Act, 1961 and its Rules. Apart from the complaint, the Bar Council notice also states that there are Council records lending credence to the allegation. Therefore, the Bar Council has now directed Mohan to respond to the notice with her remarks within a week’s time.
[Read the Kerala Bar Council notice below]