A contempt petition (1334/2016 – a copy of the petition is with The Kochi Post) has been moved against three police officials and four media persons in light of the protest that took place at the High Court last week. Advocate J.S. Ajith Kumar from Kochi is the petitioner. He said that the application was moved to “…uphold the dignity, prestige, pride and credibility of the High Court of Kerala…”, of which he is a prominent part. The Kochi Post had reported about how a misleading newspaper report caused the spat between lawyers and journalists at the Kerala High Court.
The petition is listed for hearing on Monday in the Chief Justice’s Court as item number 205 and Senior Advocate K. Ramkumar will be appearing for the petitioner.
G.D. Vijayakumar (CI, Central Station, Ernakulam), Nizamudeen (CI, North Police station, Ernakulam) and Siby Tom (CI, South Police station, Ernakulam) are the police officials against whom the petition has been filed. The journalists named in the petition are Wilson Vadakkumcherry (Reporter Channel), Ravikumar (President, Kerala Union of Working Journalists, Press Club, Ernakulam), Praveenkumar (Senior Video Editor, JaiHind T.V.) and Salam P. Hydrose (Chief Reporter, Asianet).
About the incident which led to the move, the petition states, “On 20.07.2016 at about 2.30.p.m. there was a violent demonstration organised by a section of media persons, appearing to have been organised by respondents 4 to 7 (Wilson Vadakkumcherry, Ravikumar, Praveenkumar and Salam P. Hydrose), which came in a procession in front of the third gate of Hon’ble High Court of Kerala and started blocking the road situated next to the High Court Building, forbidding vehicular traffic and pedestrial movement, completely preventing the freedom of citizens to pass and re-pass through the High Court Road. They were purportedly protesting against the lawyers of some of their imaginary grievances…”
The petition says that those who staged the protest had not taken permission from any police authorities or from the Registrar of the High Court of Kerala for the protest and the blocking of the road. The petition states that when the advocates informed the police about the incident, they acted very casually. The petition notes, “Respondents 1 and 2 (G.D. Vijayakumar and Nizamudeen) were in charge of the law and order problem, being the police officers on duty at the spot. They were watching merrily, the incident, and encouraging disobedience of Annexure A1 judgment of this Hon’ble Court. They did not move their little finger even after the media persons blocked the entire road and court entrance and started attacking the advocates, some of them including lady lawyers. No attempt was made effectively by the police to remove the crowd who were unlawfully assembled at the prohibited area.”
The High Court of Kerala has made it clear in George Koshy vs. State of Kerala that no slogan shouting with or without the use of loud speakers shall be permitted within the vicinity of Court premises which would have the effect of disrupting or disturbing the working of the court premises. It is alleged that the act of the journalists and policemen were in violation of law laid down by the High Court in this case.
The petitioner alleges that the protesters blocked the road and created a hurdle for the public and the advocates. According to the petition, advocates Antony, Rigal Devesh, Vishnu Jayapalan, Jeevan Manayani, Rajeev, Joseph Thomas, and Ligy were shoved by the media persons. The petition asserts that the road was blocked till 6 p.m. and the police did not even try to prevent the protesters and even when one of the advocates tried to get out of the court, the media persons became violent and staged a scene. It is after this that the police started lathi-charge on the advocates.
The petitioner, Ajith Kumar, was also a victim of the lathi charge.
After the incident, the media room at the High Court is still inaccessible to journalists. Will this contempt petition add more fuel to the fire?