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Courts not fiefdom of lawyers, Kerala CM says

Advocates in state have been implementing a virtual entry-ban on media persons in court premises

Gulf News

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday gave a stern warning to lawyers in the state, reminding that their efforts to keep media persons out of law courts could not be tolerated.

Advocates in the state have been implementing a virtual entry-ban on media persons in court premises. This has been in force since media reported about the alleged molestation charge against a government pleader, Dhanesh Mathew Manjooran in Kochi earlier this year.

“Advocates should not harbour the belief that law courts are their private property. Advocates have no right in deciding who should or should not enter courts,” the chief minister said.

Speaking at the state conference of the Kerala Union of Working Journalists, Vijayan reminded the lawyers that the “judiciary is the authority at law courts and advocates need not attempt to wear that garb”.

He said it was against the freedom of the Press to restrict media entry into law courts, and reminded advocates that they were breaking the law by adopting such a tactic.

Sounding a strong warning to lawyers who are preventing media entry into courts and attacking journalists, the chief minister said, “The role of the government is to ensure that laws are not violated. If boundaries are violated, and it turns intolerable, the government will do everything possible to ensure that the law is not violated”.

Vijayan had held a discussion about the lawyers-journalists spat with the state high court chief justice, and the two had declared that it was safe for media persons to begin reporting from courts.

However, that pact was broken on Thursday, when a group of journalists who went to the vigilance court in Thiruvananthapuram were roughed up by lawyers, and their vehicles stoned.

Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Kerala Governor P. Sathasivam, himself a former chief justice of India’s apex court, and all senior political leaders in Kerala, including Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and V.M. Sudheeran, have expressed outrage at the attacks on journalists in Kerala by a section of lawyers.