Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition by an advocate seeking an interim injunction restraining R.K. Chandramohen from acting as chairman of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.

However, the court allowed the advocate’s another application and granted an interim injunction restraining the council, represented by its secretary, and Mr. Chandramohen from removing him from the committees to which he had been elected or nominated, except by a due process of law, pending disposal of the suit.

In his petition, D. Selvam of Mylapore submitted that prior to the election to the council in November 2005, an understanding was reached. Under it, he and Mr. Chandramohen were to share the chairman’s post: Mr. Chandramohen would hold the post for the first half, and later he would support Mr. Selvam to be elected chairman. Mr. Chandramohen was elected chairman in November 2005. His tenure ended on May 30 this year. He also submitted his resignation. Later, from press reports, it was known that Mr. Chandramohen disputed the letter.

Mr. Selvam contended that the chairman could not act according to his whims and fancies and cling on to the post despite having tendered his resignation.

Justice V. Ramasubramanian said that even if the resignation letter was deemed to have been given on May 30, 2008, it would not come into effect unless it was accepted by the council at a meeting convened for the purpose. It was open to the council either to accept it with immediate effect, or with effect from any other date, or reject it. Therefore, the contention that a vacancy arose on May 30 following the submission of the letter of resignation could not be accepted, unless the plaintiff proved that the resignation was accepted.

The judge said any agreement or understanding to outwit the statutory provisions would be contrary to public policy. The court could not look into such “gentlemen’s agreement.” Moral obligations should at the best be left to a man’s conscience, as they were beyond the pale of judicial scrutiny. “All that I can do perhaps is to quote George Bernard Shaw who said: ‘The more things a man is ashamed of, the more respectable he is’.”

He said neither the law nor the rules of the council enabled the council to authorise the chairman to reconstitute all committees at his discretion.