About 1,500 advocates of the Tiruchi Bar Association boycotted courts on Friday in the city and elsewhere in the district protesting the proposed Legal Practitioners (Regulation and Maintenance of Standards in Profession, Protecting the Interest of Clients and Promoting the Rule of Law) Act, 2010.

The Bar Council of Tamil Nadu had called for a protest day and advised the lawyers to wear ‘red badges' to show their dissent. The Bar Federation of Subordinate Courts of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry had called for a boycott of the courts.

The Act inter-alia provides for the creation of a Legal Services Board in line with a similar body in UK .It provides for establishment of an Ombudsman to consider and determine complaints against legal practitioners. The proposed Board would be constituted at National, Zonal and State levels. A retired Judge of the Supreme Court would be the Chairman of the board at the National level while at the State level, the board would be headed by a retired High Court Judge or a retired District Judge.

The Ombudsman, upon creation, would carry out functions currently being handled by the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India and of the respective States.

‘The Ombudsman would intrude into the functioning of the Bar Councils in the respective states as the Disciplinary Committees of the Bar Councils of the State handle complaints against the respective legal practitioners', says S.T.Madan, former president of the Bar Association of Tiruchi.

Om Prakash, vice-president of the Tiruchi Bar Association claimed that the proposed Act would be an assault on the independence of Bar Councils and autonomy of the Judiciary would be compromised.

‘Though the bill was drafted in November, it has been circulated for eliciting the opinion of the legal fraternity only recently. We have been asked to express our opinion within a week, which is very short. The proposed Act also stipulates that advocates attach a stamp for value not less than Rs.25 for every ‘vakkalath nama' they file in the courts and the amount collected would go towards the maintenance of the planned body. This would be an unnecessary expenditure for poor litigants.' Mr. Prakash said.

The Ombudsman can also be used as tool to harass advocates and frivolous complaints can be filed against them, he claimed.