By Our Legal Correspondent
Kochi: There is not much surprise in a Bar and Bench verbal duel. It is quite usual; advocates engage in heated arguments with the Court to establish their case in progress. But it is certainly strange, a judge orders the arrest of an advocate in uniform from inside the court. The Judicial First-class Magistrate court, Tirur, in Malappuram, Kerala was on Saturday witness to such a surprising incident when a visibly fuming magistrate ordered the police to arrest and remove an advocate from the courtroom. The abrupt and unprecedented action of the magistrate on duty, Mr Lenin Das, enraged not just the lawyers of Tirur Bar, but the advocates across the state. The advocate fraternity has risen in protest against the judicial officer and demanded the Chief justice of Kerala immediate removal of the “arrogant and irritating” magistrate from his present chair.
Sabna Basheer, a lady advocate practicing in the same court was an eyewitness to the entire episode. Narrating the incident she said, “we, the lawyers in the courtroom, were stunned when the bench asked the police present there to arrest and remove advocate Fahad from the court room. The magistrate got agitated for no valid reason. When a witness in the box mistakenly spelled the year as 2001, instead of 2021, Advocate Fahad had tried to correct it addressing the Bench. This infuriated the magistrate and he ordered the police to immediately arrest the lawyer and remove from the courtroom.”
Advocate Sabna, practicing at the Tirur Bar for over four years says, “this magistrate is impolite and arrogant” to the lawyers at large. The magistrate may recall that he was also a practicing lawyer before entering the judicial service. How dare he abuse and ridicule us without considering that advocates are officers of the court? We as lawyers, cannot tolerate such a disrespectful and abusive attitude from the Bench. Our lawyer’s fraternity across the state is demanding immediate removal of this magistrate from Tirur Court. We have our self-respect and will not compromise at any cost.”
The Bar Council of Kerala (BCK) has taken up the matter seriously and asked the Chief Justice of Kerala to take stern action against the “misconduct” of the magistrate. In a letter to the President and Secretary of Tirur Bar Association Advocate K N Anilkumar, chairman of BCK stated “we have got assurance from Judge-in-charge of Malappuram Hon’ble Mr. Justice N Nagaresh, High Court of Kerala that the alleged Magistrate will be transferred Tirur at the earliest.”
The Executive Committee of Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association has also condemned the “misadventure” of the magistrate. In strongly worded statement the lawyers forum has said, “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.
In light of the above, the Association urgently appeals to the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala to take decisive action against the Judicial First Class Magistrate for his unbecoming behaviour inside the courtroom and his reported use of abusive language against lawyers in his chamber. In addition to the above, we urge the Hon’ble High Court to reconsider the practice of appointing Temporary Magistrates and instead to take steps to appoint qualified Advocates, who can effectively discharge judicial duties.”
As per sources the High Court administration is contemplating to comply the demand of the Bar Associations at the earliest and defuse the on-going strain between the Bar and the Bench.