Tamil Nadu

Situation in T.N. abnormal

In an unprecedented move, the Bar Council of India on Saturday suspended 126 lawyers from Tamil Nadu who have been spearheading the ongoing court boycott. In a telephonic interview with Mohamed Imranullah S. , the BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra justifies the action saying the situation in Tamil Nadu is indeed abnormal warranting such strong decision. Excerpts:

Never before have 126 lawyers been suspended in one stroke by the BCI. What prompted this strong action?

You know that for the last 55 days, they (lawyers) have been on a strike, paralysing many courts in the State. Though the Madras High Court has framed certain rules (for taking disciplinary action against errant lawyers), it cannot be made a ground for boycotting courts because the same court has kept the operation of the rule in abeyance. Now, a committee of five senior judges has been constituted and the Bar representatives have been requested to place their grievances before this committee. Instead of finding a solution, they (lawyers) are unnecessarily trying to prolong the strike. The BCI has to protect the rights and privileges of the advocates since 99.9 per cent of advocates in Tamil Nadu are sincere and practising advocates. They want to go back to court but, because of this handful of lawyers, they are being restrained from attending courts.

On what basis did you draw up the names of the suspended lawyers?

We got the list from the State Bar Council. We collected some names through our sources too. We received many mails from senior lawyers from the Madras High Court as well. First, I made an appeal to all the advocates, particularly to the so-called Joint Action Committee (of lawyers) to recall the strike. I said we will have a talk with the High Court and the committee constituted by the High Court.

I told them that the BCI is ready to intervene in the issue to find out some solution. But even after that, they gave a call for ransacking and gheraoing the High Court. They have tried to involve the law students and spoil their career too.

But the Tamil Nadu lawyers have accused you of acting in a biased manner. They say you did not act with such firmness when advocates indulged in violence in Patiala House court complex and Telangana recently…

We took action in the Patiala case and formed a committee but now the matter is pending before the Supreme Court which has directed us to wait until it decides the issue. So far as Telangana is concerned, we have issued notice (to the lawyers). It has now been settled and I had a talk with the honourable Chief Justice there. In Tamil Nadu, it is abnormal. We take such an action only in extreme cases. In fact, this is the first time in history that we had to take such action.

What is your response to the charge that you are acting at the behest of the judiciary here?

Now, what interest can I have with judges at the Madras High Court? I am here to protect the interests of the lawyers. I have nothing to do with the judges. The Supreme Court recently criticised us saying the BCI does not take action against erring lawyers and some other regulatory mechanism should be devised. Therefore, we have to act. We cannot shut our eyes to such issues. Suspension of the lawyers does not mean that BCI has accepted the rules framed by the Madras High Court (to deal with errant lawyers).

Do you think it is right to suspend lawyers without even a preliminary inquiry?

We had made several requests and issued reminders, but they (lawyers) went to the extent of saying that they will not allow the judges to enter the court halls. It is unbecoming of the conduct expected of lawyers. Fifty-five days of strike, you see.

Imagine the plight of their clients and poor litigants. As responsible citizens, we should consider the plight of poor litigants who come to our doorsteps.

Some of the 126 lawyers claim that they have been suspended though they were not part of the protests. What is your response?

If any such member approaches the BCI, and we find that he or she was not involved, we will immediately withdraw the suspension. Punishing all lawyers is not our intention.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2021 6:05:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Situation-in-T.N.-abnormal/article14509238.ece

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