Directive To Arrest Lawyer For On Allegation Of Assisting Witness: Bar Associations Protest, Kerala High Court Assures Bar Council Of Action Against Magistrate
The Bar Council of Kerala has announced today that it has been assured by the Judge in charge of the District where a Magistrate allegedly used offensive language and directed detention of a junior lawyer allegedly assisting a witness, that the Magistrate concerned will be transferred at the earliest.
On November 18, 2023, a Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) in the Tirur District Court on temporary service, allegedly verbally abused a junior advocate on allegations of assisting a witness during their chief examination. It is reported that the JMFC not only instructed the police to arrest the lawyer but also compelled him to leave the Court premises. This led to a protest by the District Bar Association, seeking action against the JMFC.
Earlier in the day, the Executive Committee of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association (KHCAA) passed a resolution expressing solidarity with the Tirur Bar Association and seeking action by the High Court against the Judicial First Class Magistrate concerned.
In the letter addressed to the Tirur Bar Association, Kerala Bar Council stated, "In the Tirur issue, the Bar Council interfered and we have got assurance from Judge-in- charge of Malappuram, Hon'ble Mr. Justice N. Nagaresh, Judge, High Court of Kerala that the alleged Magistrate will be transferred from Tirur at the earliest. The Bar Council will follow up the matter until an apt decision is taken by the Hon'ble High Court."
In its resolution, the Executive Committee of the KHCAA expresses its dismay and deep anguish over the reprehensible behaviour exhibited by the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Thirur towards a junior lawyer within the courtroom. The Executive Committee also extended its unwavering solidarity to the protest action being taken by the Tirur Bar Association.
The resolution passed by the Committee said, "It has come to our attention that this incident is not isolated, and there are existing complaints before the Hon'ble High Court of Kerala regarding the Magistrate's inappropriate behaviour towards lawyers, both inside the courtroom and within his chamber. Such conduct is not in line with the expected standards of a judicial officer."
Questioning the professional competence of temporary judges, the Association said in its resolution, "The Kerala High Court Advocates Association is particularly disturbed by the fact that the said Magistrate is now serving in a temporary capacity. This has prompted us to express our deep concern about the procedure being followed for appointing serving employees to judicial service as Temporary Magistrates. The Association believes that the revered duties of a judicial officer should be entrusted to qualified professionals capable of upholding the dignity and decorum expected in a courtroom."
Speaking to Verdictum about the incident, the President in charge of KHCAA, Advocate S Biju said, "During the examination of a witness in chief, an inadvertent mistake occurred when the witness, instead of stating the year 2021, mistakenly mentioned 2001. Upon the Magistrate's clarification regarding the correct year, the junior Lawyer with 3-4 years of experience, who was assisting the Court, clarified that it was the year 2021. However, the Court wrongly accused the Advocate of assisting the witness. The magistrate, in response, instructed the Lawyer to leave and directed the police to arrest him."
The Ernakulam Bar Association has decided today to abstain from work tomorrow seeking action against the Magistrate.