Young Lawyer’s Facebook Post Raises Questions on Ethics in the Legal Profession
An unfortunate Facebook post has landed environmental activist and advocate Harish Vasudevan Sreedevi in serious trouble. In the post, the lawyer had criticised the judiciary and Justice Ubaid, who granted bail to the accused arrested for sexually assaulting a ten-year-old girl child. To make matters worse, Mr. Harish addressed the judge only by his name and questioned the judgment that granted bail to the accused.
The irony, however, is that Mr. Harish was one of the lawyers who appeared on behalf of the accused in the Court. Narada news had reported that Mr. Harish was one among the lawyers who had filed vakalat for the accused in the case.
The consequence of the comment, however, was very dramatic. Mr. Harish was blamed by the public and the media for defaming his own client and questioning the judiciary. After the issue escalated to a serious level, Mr. Harish deleted the post. He also put up another post apologising for his earlier comment. He mentioned that he had posted the comment without looking into criminal law and before understanding the facts. He also expressed his regret over addressing the judge by his name. He admitted that his office had moved for bail for the accused.
The Kochi Post tried to contact the lawyer. He was reluctant to speak on the issue.
He sent a text message saying, “Bail is a usual right of any accused after 90 days of jail, and if chargesheet is filed. I did not know that fact before posting.”
Commenting on the issue, an advocate from the High Court, under the condition of anonymity, said that it is grave irresponsibility on any lawyer’s part to comment against his client after accepting the case and moving for bail.
“Maybe advocate Harish might not have thought much before posting such a comment. But the very first sentence, which says that a person guilty of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl was granted bail, itself shows that the lawyer is sure that his client has committed the offence. This is definitely unethical,” he added.
Mr. Harish was also reprimanded by Justice Ubaid for the “irresponsible” act.
The severity of the controversy has, however, lessened after the post was removed and the lawyer sought pardon.
Ajith Kumar, a lawyer practicing at the Kerala High Court, explained the implications of Mr. Harish’s post.
“It is very unfortunate that such an incident took place. A lawyer is expected to know all aspects of a case, be it criminal or civil in nature. It cannot be denied that Mr. Harish is a very young lawyer and new to this profession. This act of his can be considered as one stemming from a lack of experience in dealing with criminal cases, as he has a background in dealing with environmental issues,” he says.
Mr. Ajith remarked that if the accused plans to move against him, then a complaint could be filed with the Bar Council and that the lawyer would have to bear the legal implications.
Mr. Harish’s comment that the presence of the media in the Court room would have stopped such a judgment has also received bitter feedback. In light of the issues between journalists and lawyers in the recent past, the Bar Council had decided to protest against any kind of media intervention in Court. It had also asked the lawyers to stop interactions with journalists as well.
Mr. Ajith is of the opinion that such a comment from a lawyer’s side has agitated everyone in the profession. He said that the Court proceedings are set according to the framework of the judiciary and the presence or absence of the media in the Court will in no way matter when it comes to the judgment of a case.