A suo motu contempt petition against two advocates and their client, which was hitherto being heard by a seven-member Bench of the Madras High Court headed by Chief Justice M.Y. Eqbal, will now be placed before a Division Bench of two Judges.

The larger Bench passed the order on Thursday accepting the submissions made by senior members of the Bar, representing the two advocates and their client. The Bench would be notified.

The matter has been posted before the Division Bench on April 16.

The constitution of a larger Bench arose due to frequent complaints received by the Chief Justice from a few advocates making allegations maligning the judges. After perusing the contents of a letter dated January 30 this year sent by T. Harishankar and S. Pattabiraman, advocates, on behalf of their client, A. Vimala, and on prima facie consideration, the court had ordered notice to the three.

When the matter came up, senior counsel N.G.R. Prasad and R. Vaigai represented the advocates. Mr. Prasad said the constitution of a larger Bench of seven judges was not necessary in the given facts and circumstances of the case.

The matter may be heard by a two-member Bench and the respondents given time for filing the counter.

Members of the Bar wished to maintain a cordial relationship with the Bench as the court's majesty should not be undermined.

Ms. Vaigai said the matter may be directed to be heard by a smaller Bench.

In the order, the court said that contempt of court was a matter that concerned the administration of justice and dignity and authority of courts.

The larger Bench was constituted keeping in mind the complaints amounting to interference with the administration of justice being received by the Registry as well as the Chief Justice. The two advocates had stated in their letter that 13 Judges should not hear the matter. As two senior members of the Bar had made their submissions, the court was accepting it. It directed the Registry to place the matter before a Division Bench. The respondents could file counter affidavits.

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