The Rise In Karnataka Sedition Cases And The Challenge For Lawyers

The Mysuru Bar Association asked its members not to represent a young woman who was charged with sedition for holding a Free Kashmir banner at a rally.

Lawyers representing the woman, who was arrested for Pakistan Zindabad slogans, faced threats

Bengaluru:

There has been a spate of sedition cases in Karnataka of late. And while there has been concern over the apparent swiftness with which this charge is made, it has also been a challenge for lawyers who are representing the accused.

The Mysuru Bar Association asked its members not to represent a young woman who was charged with sedition for holding a Free Kashmir banner at a rally. The Hubballi Bar Association also sent out a similar message to its members to not represent three Kashmiri students accused of sedition in the city - after posting a video on social media that allegedly had the slogan Pakistan Zindabad. The students are in judicial custody till March 2.

Most recently, lawyers representing the young woman in Bengaluru, who was arrested for Pakistan Zindabad slogans, also faced threats.

There is a large team of lawyers representing her and one of them, Vinay, was threatened. He told NDTV, "We were supposed to appear on her behalf on Monday and Tuesday. I got many threat calls asking me to withdraw. So we didn't appear in court since it will become a media spectacle... so we had the hearing shifted to the magistrate's house. And we appeared there. Maitreyi and BT Venkatesh filed objections to the police application for police custody for 10 days. Judge then ordered 5 days custody."

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The young woman's bail hearing is on Saturday, and her lawyers are confident that there are no good grounds to deny her bail.

A team of lawyers who also went to represent the Hubballi students were also heckled and threatened. They approached the High Court on the issue. And the High Court today said it would not hesitate to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against lawyers who shout slogans and prevent other advocates from filing the bail applications for the students.

Senior advocate, B T Venkatesh, told NDTV, "Every single person has a right to representation. These associations telling their members not to represent these cases are legally bad."