The Madras High Court Bench here has restrained the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu from proceeding with an enquiry initiated against a Dalit advocate in Tuticorin for having worked as a part-time supervisor in a liquor outlet of Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) while undergoing his law degree at the Madurai Law College during 2006-07.

Passing interim orders on a writ petition filed by the advocate S. Sivasubramanian of Nadunallumoolaikinaru at Tiruchendur Taluk in Tuticorin district, Justice M. Jeyapaul stayed all further proceedings pursuant to a show cause notice issued to the petitioner on June 14 seeking an explanation as to why his enrolment with the Bar Council should not be cancelled in view of a complaint lodged against him.

Petitioner's counsel M. Ajmal Khan contended that the Bar Council had issued the notice mechanically without noticing the fact that the complaint had been lodged by a woman litigant against whom the petitioner appeared in a case before a Tiruchendur court. A litigant lodging a complaint against a lawyer with an ulterior motive would amount to interference with the performance of professional duties.

He also pointed out that when the petitioner' family could not support his education, he chose to take up a job as a supervisor in TASMAC outlet for three days in a week and continued his education with a paltry remuneration.

The petitioner was discharged from this job too after one of his fellow villagers lodged a complaint with the TASMAC stating that he was a law student. Nevertheless, he did not choose to challenge the discharge order because he wanted to concentrate on his studies. Accordingly, he completed his law degree last year and enrolled with the Bar Council on October 28, 2009.

Thereafter, he began practising as an advocate at the District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate Court in Tiruchendur and other courts in Tuticorin district. Once he appeared for an accused in a criminal case and obtained bail for him. Aggrieved, the opponent party in the case lodged a complaint with the Bar Council to cancel his enrolment under Section 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

The Section stated that an advocate could be disqualified from being enrolled in the Bar Council if he had been dismissed or removed from employment or office under the State on any charge involving moral turpitude. “In the present case, I was not dismissed or removed but only discharged from service… Moreover, I was not charged with any kind of moral turpitude,” the petitioner's counsel said.

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