Tamil Nadu

Bar Council gets a full-fledged elected body


Election held between 25 members

The Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTNP) has finally got an elected body of office-bearers with the election of advocate P.S. Amalraj as its chairman, V. Karthikeyan as vice-chairman and senior counsel S. Prabakaran as the member representing the BCTNP in the Bar Council of India (BCI).

According to Returning Officer and BCTNP secretary C. Raja Kumar, Mr. Amalraj and Mr. Prabakaran defeated R.C. Paul Kanagaraj and D. Selvam respectively by a margin of four votes.

The election was held between 25 elected members. Apart from the 25 members, Advocate General Vijay Narayan was entitled to cast his vote in the capacity of an ex-officio member of the council. The election ends an impasse that prevailed for nearly two years with a special committee, constituted by the BCI, managing the affairs of BCTNP since 2017. Though the election for 25 members was held on March 28, 2018 and the results were declared on September 22, 2018, their names could not be notified in the government gazette till the disposal of 21 complaints of alleged irregularities by an election tribunal, which, on July 2, rejected all the complaints.

The tribunal comprised former Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court V.K. Gupta, former Gujarat High Court judge Deepak K. Trivedi and former judge of Uttarakhand High Court B.C. Kandpal and arrived at the decision to reject all complaints after hearing one of the 21 complainants and senior counsel R. Balasubramanian representing BCI.

None of the other complainants appeared for the final hearing on June 30 in New Delhi, it said. Breaking down the complaints into six main issues, the tribunal rejected the primary allegation of some ballot boxes not being sealed properly. It held that the complainants had failed to submit adequate evidence to substantiate the allegation.

It also rejected the allegation of some Returning Officers having been forced to resign and changed at the instance of the BCI. The tribunal pointed out that as many as three retired judges of the Madras High Court had resigned from the post of the Returning Officer voluntarily and therefore, the allegation levelled against BCI was wholly unfounded.

In so far as the third allegation of 723 votes being declared invalid initially but subsequently taken into account, the tribunal said that it was done on the basis of reports submitted by two Assistant Returning Officers after physical verification of the ballot boxes. It was nobody’s case that revalidation of those votes had materially affected any candidate, it added.

The election tribunal also gave a clean chit to Mr. Prabakaran, who was also the co-chairman of BCI, of having exerted undue influence in the election process. It also did not find anything wrong in the Returning Officer having chosen to appoint advocates as polling officers in Chennai though retired judicial officers were entrusted with the job in other districts.

“Without levelling any allegations of any type against any specific or named advocate, simply saying that the appointment of advocate was bad in comparison to the appointment of retired judicial officers is a very harsh statement. One cannot be allowed to urge that advocates as a class are not dependable persons for the discharge of election related duties,” the tribunal observed.

Further, it refused to buy the argument that around 10,000 advocates could not have voted in Chennai when only around 3,000 were practising in the High Court as well as civil courts. “If the names of these 10,000 odd people were on the electoral rolls and if they were eligible to caste their votes, one cannot find fault with these people voting in such large number,” it said.

The tribunal’s verdict paved way for Mr. Amalraj, Mr. Paul Kanagaraj, Mr. Prabakaran, senior counsel R. Viduthalai, K. Balu, G. Mohana Krishnan, Mr. Karthikeyan, K.R.R. Aiyyappamani, J. Priscilla Pandian, N. Marappan, Mr. Velmurugan, Mr. Selvam, R. Arunachallam, R. Ayyavoo, B. Ashok, K. Kathiravan, Mr. Sivasubramanian, M. Varadhan and G. Thalaimutharasu to take charge. Advocates K. Chandramohan, C. Murugan alias Srimurugaa, A. Kothandam, D. Saravanan, T. Michael Stanis Prabhu and M. Rajendhra Kumar were among the others who got elected as members.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 10:17:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/bar-council-gets-a-full-fledged-elected-body-bar-council-of-tamil-nadu-and-puducherry/article28752762.ece

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