NATIONAL

Senior Madras High Court counsel wants to get rid of ‘terror’ stigma

M. Ajmal Khan  

The observations made by the Supreme Court on Wednesday against pinning the tag of terrorist on innocent Muslims has stirred the emotions of designated senior counsel M. Ajmal Khan (47) who feels that his proposed elevation as a judge of the Madras High Court was blocked recently because of the ‘Khan’ syndrome of approaching every Muslim with suspicion.

It was in January 2011 that the High Court found him fit to occupy the post of a judge on the basis of his long standing practice in the Bar and obtained his consent for elevation.

“But thereafter, events took a dramatic turn as enquiries made by the Intelligence Bureau, at the instance of the Union Ministry of Law, revolved around my alleged links with fundamentalist organisations.

“The line of inquiry made with my friends, colleagues and others only tested my loyalty to the nation thereby causing great stigma. Even though selection of judges remains a secretive process with neither the Supreme Court nor the Centre disclosing reasons for denying elevation to a particular candidate, the Bar continues to think that I was denied a judgeship due to terror links,” he told the The Hindu on Thursday.

“I have never ever accepted a brief on behalf of any fundamentalist organisation during my practice as a lawyer in the Madras High Court since 1990 or in its Madurai Bench since 2004. But ironically donations paid by me to madrasas (Islamic schools) and mosques during the holy month of Ramzan were probed as part of the enquiry for my elevation and I came to know about them through the office-bearers of those institutions,” he added.

Stating that he does not desire to become a judge any more, the senior counsel said: “I stood first among the ten candidates out of 140 who joined the five-year integrated law course in Madurai Government Law College in 1983-88. I cleared the course in the first attempt itself after successfully crossing the ‘hurdle system’ in which one can move on to the next year only after clearing all the papers of the previous year”.

“However, after more than two decades of experience as a lawyer, I failed to clear the hurdles created due to social discrimination attached to the religious faith that I practice. It hurts a lot when every other lawyer asks me about my failure to make it to the Bench. Let there be a public inquiry and I will prove to the nation that my name is Khan and I am not a terrorist,” he said.