September,26,2015:In an unprecedented move, Bar Council of India (BCI) has ordered suspension of 15 lawyers from practice and passed scathing strictures against the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for its failure to take action against unruly elements among advocates responsible for laying siege to courts and creating ruckus on the Madras high court campus.”
Echoing the Supreme Court’s view that the legal profession has fallen to new depths, the Bar Council of India (BCI) took the “extraordinary” measure to suspend 15 advocates who allegedly indulged in the Madras High Court violence.
They were suspended without being afforded an opportunity to be heard first. But the BCI justified that the law allowed it to take extraordinary measures in exceptional cases when the health of the legal profession was at stake.
These advocates have also been debarred from practising before any court or authority pending a disciplinary probe against them for “gross professional misconduct.” The BCI directed the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council to conclude the disciplinary proceedings against the advocates in a month.
The 15 advocates were zeroed in on the basis of communications from the BCI, by the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bar Council and the Registrar General of the Madras High Court. The Registrar General’s list had the names of two law college students who allegedly participated in the violence, the seven-page order dated September 22, authored by BCI Chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, noted.
The country’s top statutory authority for lawyers said the Madras High Court violence had opened a Pandora’s box, revealing the malaise and the sheer drop in the standards of the legal profession. The BCI said the incidents of lawlessness and regular hooliganism that affected the chartered High Court highlighted how the Bar Councils and lawyers’ bodies cowered in terror as a growing number of persons with fake degrees vandalised courts and held judges and fellow professionals to ransom.
In the order, Mr. Mishra narrated that the most telling point was how the Tamil Nadu Bar Council Chairman expressed his inability to act against the errant lawyers, “particularly the leaders of the unruly advocates because of their muscle power, bad antecedents and criminal history.” The 15 advocates are affiliated to Madurai District Bar Association.
He then named 15 advocates, including Madurai District Bar Association president P Dharmaraj, secretary A K Ramasamy, and former Bar leader W Peter Ramesh Kumar. The others are: V C Sankaranarayanan, Arumugam, A Nedunchezhian, M Thirunavukkarasu, S Karunanidhi, A Saravanan, P Natarajan, S Vanchinathan, S Ayyapparaja, B Ashok, J Ramamoorthy and C M Arumugam.
Making a reference to all such incidents, the BCI chairman was of the opinion that “the time has come when Bar Councils will have to make a drastic change in their attitude, while dealing with cases of professional misconduct, failing which the profession will lose its importance.”
The Chairman also lamented the fall in standards of the profession, especially due to the increasing number of “non-practicing advocates and the number of persons with fake and forged certificates”. It referred to a survey conducted by the Council in which they found out that “the number of such non-practicing and farzi lawyers has increased to such an extent that they are playing a vital role even in the constitution of Bar Associations and Bar Councils.”
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- Advocates Act,1961
- Advocates Welfare Fund Act,2001
Licence to practice should be subject to scrutiny after five years.Their licence should renewed after five years on the recommendations of District Judges and Chief Justices.Public opinion specially litigants should also be taken.