A group of advocates allegedly attacked media persons outside the Kerala High Court complex here leaving five people injured during their protests against the media coverage of the case of an alleged bid by a government pleader to molest a woman in the city last week.
Unruly scenes were witnessed as some lawyers supporting government pleader Dhanesh Mathew Manjooran allegedly attacked media persons who were standing at a road leading to the Court complex. The injured included two TV camerapersons.
TV footage of the incident showed media persons being chased and kicked by advocates even as police tried to rescue them.
Three media persons, including a woman TV journalist, have been admitted to the Government General Hospital, Ernakulam, Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) representatives said. The other two were discharged after first aid, he said.
The men in black robes shouted slogans against senior women scribes who were already in the court complex for covering the proceedings, asking them to ‘go back’.
Protests by advocates within the court complex forced High Court authorities to lock down the media room there.
The women journalists could cover the court proceedings only after police posted in the complex provided them adequate security assistance.
The women scribes later lodged a complaint with acting Chief Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan against the lawyers who tried to prevent them from carrying out their professional duties.
Hearing the news about the attack on media, a large number of media persons under the banner of KUWJ assembled at the High Court junction and staged a sit-in there.
Sloganeering lawyers also assembled at the High Court gate. “They even threw coins towards us, calling us beggars who could be influenced by money,” a KUWJ representative claimed.
Police intervened to bring the situation to normalcy.
In a Facebook post, reacting to the incident, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a democracy, cooperation and co-existence between judiciary and media is very vital. Both should understand the respective roles and exercise restraint.
He said the violent incidents in the court complex between media personnel and lawyers came to his notice.
“In a democracy, cooperation and co-existence between judiciary and media is very vital and there should be no tension between them. Both should understand their respective roles in a democracy and exercise restraint,” he said.
Kerala High Court Advocates Association representatives said the lawyers have decided to abstain from tomorrow’s court proceedings to “condemn the attack committed by media persons with the active participation of police.”
The media persons ended the protest following the intervention of the Acting Chief Justice and the Kochi City police gave an assurance that strong action would be taken against unruly lawyers, KUWJ representatives said.
Ernakulam unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists alleged that the advocates resorted to violent protest against the media as they were provoked by its coverage of the alleged attempt by government pleader Manjooran to molest a woman.
Condemning the incident, KUWJ state leadership sought intervention of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to take action against the lawyers involved in the attack.
The incident occurred a day after Kerala Union of Working Journalists organised a march protesting against some advocates who allegedly used abusive words against legal reporters at the Kerala High Court media room.
Opposition leader in the state assembly, Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC chief V M Sudheeran have condemned the incident.
Meanwhile, Kerala Police chief Loknath Behera said investigation into the alleged molestation bid has been handed over to Inspector Rural, Radhamani.
“If there is evidence, charge sheet will be filed,” the DGP said.
The government pleader, who is currently out on bail, was arrested last week on the charge of allegedly attempting to molest the woman on a city lane.