The Kerala High Court on Thursday stayed the order of the Bar Council of Kerala suspending the practice of former IAS officer Alphons Kannanthanam, MLA, as lawyer on charges of professional misconduct.
Justice P.N. Ravindran passed the stay order while admitting a writ petition filed by the MLA challenging the Bar Council's order. The court observed that it was prima facie satisfied that the proceedings initiated by the Bar Council could not be sustained.
Mr. Kannanthanam's practice was suspended after a disciplinary committee of the Bar Council found him guilty of professional misconduct. The committee found that he had engaged in the business of running an institution (career coaching centre) without suspending the practice or procuring the permission of the Bar Council.
The committee held that he had obtained a trademark in his name as a proprietor of the business establishment while he was practising as lawyer. The proceedings were initiated suo motu by the Bar Council when it came cross allegations that he was “indulging in business activities apart from being an advocate”.
The petitioner said that as the proceedings were illegal, he raised the question of maintainability before the committee. The committee rejected his objections. Even the review petition was dismissed without assigning any reasons. He said that when he appeared before the committee, only one member was present. He had said that he would not cooperate with the one-member committee.
Thereafter, the committee passed an ex parte order holding that the proceedings were maintainable. Later, when he moved the High Court, the Bar Council submitted that the ex parte order would be set aside and he would be given an opportunity to contest the case. However, his petition seeking to set aside the ex parte order was dismissed and the present order passed. The petitioner had not been given any opportunity of being heard before passing the order. Besides, it had not heard the Advocate-General as was mandatory under the Advocate Act.