Karnataka high court issues notice after semi-naked man appears during hearing

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The Karnataka high court issued a notice to a man on Tuesday after he appeared semi-naked in a virtual hearing. The court ordered the retrieval of the user’s data, acting on a complaint by senior advocate Indira Jaising.

According to senior advocate Indira Jaising, the man appeared to be taking a bath as the division bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum was hearing a PIL filed in connection with the alleged CD scandal involving former Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi.

Jaising, appearing on behalf of the woman who had lodged a sexual abuse case against Jarkiholi, said that the half-naked man was on the screen for more than 20 minutes. The man had joined the video conferencing under the name ‘Sridhar Bhat SDMC Ujire’.

“A person is appearing on video conference without a vest, he is visible in this courtroom. Please take judicial notice of this. Let there be some decorum in the court. Milord, I am a woman lawyer…. It is very offensive for a woman to see a man without clothes in a courtroom. Do we have a man without clothes when a woman is arguing in court? What is going on? Milords…It seems he is bathing in front of the court and before me. How is this possible?” Jaising asked the court.

Complaining that his conduct amounts to ‘gross contempt of court’, Jaising said she would send the digital evidence to the court to take appropriate action against the man. Some of the advocates, too, drew the court’s attention towards the person who left the video conference after the issue was brought to the notice of the court. A court officer tried calling the offender, but he did not respond and later he logged out.

At the end of the hearing, Jaising urged the court to act against the man. She said, “I am exposed to a semi-naked man for 20 minutes. It is done very deliberately and intentionally. It should never happen again, and it is very disturbing and offensive. His conduct amounts to gross contempt of court. I request to take action under the Contempt of Court Act.”

Taking note of the issue, the court also passed the order to find out the offender and issue him notice. More than 80 persons logged into the hearing.

Meanwhile, Special Investigation Team (SIT) chief Soumendu Mukherjee submitted a report saying the final report (submitted in a sealed envelope) proposed to be submitted is acceptable. The Karnataka High Court has asked the SIT to file an application before it for clearance to file reports in a magistrate court on its investigations in cases pertaining to allegations of sexual assault against BJP MLA Ramesh Jarkiholi and a counter-complaint of extortion filed by the MLA.

In July this year, the SIT had placed a final report on the investigation to the high court, seeking permission to file the reports in a lower court. However, the high court expressed its reservations since the supervising officer of the SIT had not seen or signed the report since he was on leave. The HC asked the SIT to resubmit the investigation reports after examination by the head of the SIT Soumendu Mukherjee.

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