Advocates oppose `draconian' notification

CHENNAI, AUG. 1. The Steering Committee of the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) today announced that the court boycott by lawyers was being suspended "for the present."

Describing the action as "an urgent necessity" in the wake of the High Court's Saturday notification laying down a 25-point conduct rules for lawyers, the committee said: "A situation has come to rally the entire Bar and the public against the notification."

A release issued at the end of the committee meeting, held here under the chairmanship of the MHAA president, S. Prabhakaran, said the meeting was "to review the situation in the context of the draconian notification."

The committee, it said, was "of the unanimous view that the notification is arbitrary and constitutes a wrongful exercise of power, arms the judiciary with undemocratic powers and is reminiscent of the Rowlatt Act and the POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act)."

The committee was of the view that the notification was "aimed to gag any attempt at seeking accountability and transparency in judicial functioning." The release said the committee called upon all advocates associations to "unequivocally condemn the notification and demand its withdrawal immediately. The general body of the advocates association will meet shortly to decide further course of action."

The notification, regulating the practice of advocates before all courts in the State, was introduced by the Registrar-General under powers conferred by Section 34 (1) of the Advocates Act.

On July 30, the advocates decided to call off court boycott; end their two-day-old fast, but stuck to their demand for the transfer of the Chief Justice, B. Subhashan Reddy. The agitations, spearheaded by the MHAA, were primarily to press for a rethink on the jurisdiction of the permanent Bench in Madurai, transfer of pending cases and retention of writ jurisdiction with the principal seat here.

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