Madras High Court under stress thanks to NewGen lawyers

Is Madras High Court under stress? A hallowed institution, estd. in 1862 faces unprecedented challenges

Is Madras High Court under stress?
By Yoga Balaji - From a Digital Camera (Nikon), CC BY 3.0,

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]hose approaching courts in Tamil Nadu better be cautious. The judges in the courts have warned litigants about selecting their lawyers. Chances are that many of them are fake advocates with no proper educational qualification. The 154 year old Madras High Court (it was established on June 26, 1862) is facing one of the worst crises in its history thanks to a group of dubious lawyers and some intransigent judges.

…the only titans now visible in the Madras High Court are the Titan watches made by the House of Tatas…

Six lawyers have been murdered in Chennai alone during the last one year, something unheard of anywhere in the country since lawyers command respect and awe. One of the lawyers was murdered in front of the court by his fellow lawyers! All these come amidst reports that Left Wing Extremists, and LTTE elements have infiltrated into the judiciary.

Since early July, the Madras High Court Advocates Association is on a warpath against the judges following the Court’s decision to go ahead with the amendment to the Advocates’ Act which has shifted the power to discipline erring lawyers from the Bar Council to the Judges. The agitation has brought the functioning of courts in Tamil Nadu to almost a standstill with no more filing of petitions in the district courts.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]R[/dropcap] T Shyamala and Subramanian Balaji, two prominent faces in the Madras High Court told PGurus that the functioning of the courts across the State has been affected by the agitation launched by the advocates. “The Advocates’ Act has to be formulated and amended by the Bar Council of India and not by the judges. The Act has been amended by the judges without consulting the lawyers,” said Shyamala.

The Advocates Act deals with the laws concerning the professional conduct of the lawyers and the rules governing the disciplinary proceedings against them. “As per the Act brought in by the Madras High Court, the judges in the High Court and District Courts would be empowered to finish off the careers of lawyers. This is against all norms in the country,” said Balaji.

Both Shyamala and Balaji agreed that the Madras High Court, known for some of the brilliant legal luminaries it contributed to the world of judiciary, is in a pathetic state of late. Hundreds of newly enrolled “lawyers” have literally hijacked the Madras High Court. “Many anti-social elements have enrolled as lawyers with degrees they manage with from law colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. All you need to do is to pay a certain amount and get registered as a student in any of the law colleges mushrooming all over these States. None of them know anything about law or Constitution,” said a senior advocate in Madras High Court who spoke on condition of anonymity.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]T[/dropcap]he new breed of lawyers who get enrolled from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are a law unto themselves, pointed out Balaji. “They do everything which a lawyer is not supposed to do. Professional ethics or etiquettes are terms alien to these lawyers,” said Balaji. The affidavit submitted by K Ramanujam, the then DGP, to the Madras High Court in 2014 in connection with a public interest litigation speaks volumes about the quality of the new breed lawyers in Tamil Nadu. “There are 1200 lawyers with criminal background in Tamil Nadu. There are 1424 criminal cases filed against these lawyers and the charges range from murder, dacoity, sexual assault, criminal misconduct, dowry harassment and Kangaroo Court,” said the affidavit

Judges from other States consider Madras High Court as punishment posting. “Many judges has sought transfer to other places because of the behaviour of some of the lawyers. Nobody has forgotten the attack on BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy by a group of lawyers who threw rotten eggs at him in a court room presided over by Justice S Chandru. No action has been taken against anybody though the judge has made a complaint,” said Balaji.

This year saw a bizarre incident when C S Karnan, a serving judge of the Madras High Court “stayed” the order issued by the Chied Justice of India transferring him to the Calcutta High Court. The judge broke all norms of the land and held a press meet accusing his superiors. “I am being targeted because I am Dalit,” said Karnan. He also said that he was ashamed of being born in India. “I will not hesitate to move to a country where caste discrimination does not exist,” he had declared.

Later on he called on the CJI and said he was sorry for his outbursts. Karnan had courted many controversies in the past and the chief of the apex court chose to give the incident a go by. But the damage has been done. Public memory is still fresh with the riots unleashed by the so called lawyers in the Madras High Court premises.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]W[/dropcap]ho finance and sustain the agitations launched by these lawyers? Balaji is of the firm view that there are Maoists, LTTE elements and Evangelist organisations funding these agitations. “They operate under various names. The kind of Public Interest Litigations filed in the Madras High Court are an indication of the ulterior motives of these lawyers,” said Balaji. There are PILs filed in the MHC challenging the union government’s decision to sell patrol boats to Sri Lankan Navy.

The security of the MHC premises has been handed over to the CISF commandos following reports about many untoward incidents in the court campus. A group of lawyers in an inebriated condition trespassed into the official residences of the chief justice S K Kaul early this year.. Fortunately, the CJ and his family members were not there when the incident happened. There are reports that these new breed lawyers use the court premises as a den for drinking and gambling after the office-hours..

The Madras High Court once used to reverberate with memories of splendid arguments put up by Alladi Krishnamoorthy and Sir C P Ramaswamy Aiyer, the titans of the legal fraternity. Well, the only titans now visible in the Madras High Court are the Titan watches made by the House of Tatas…

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.

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  1. //……Finally, submitting to the Supreme Court to exercise its extraordinary Constitutional powers and lay down sufficient guidelines for the behaviour of lawyers within and without the court premises, as the Bar Council has not been acting as an effective regulatory body of their professional conduct, Justice Srikrishna concluded, “it would be ideal if the Advocate Act is amended to ensure a better disciplinary mechanism of the profession of law, since it affects not only lawyers but also litigants, the administration of justice in the country and finally the rule of law itself. Until such time that appropriate Legislation is made, it is desirable that this Honourable Court should formulate appropriate guidelines to be followed by lawyers and enforced by all courts of law.”

    On 6 March, the Supreme Court referred the report to the Madras High Court and said it could decide whether to hold a judicial inquiry into the incident as it was already seized of the matter. As rightly concluded by Justice Srikrishna, this is a great opportunity for the Court of Law to formulate appropriate guidelines to be followed by lawyers, leading eventually to necessary amendments in the Advocate Act. The unruly section of lawyers, who have hundreds of cases registered against them, as established by police records and media reports, must be brought to book and punished as per the law of the land. ….//

  2. //……On 18 February, the First Bench of the Madras High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice (ACJ) Mukhopadhyaya and Justice V Dhanapalan appointed a five-judge bench to decide whether to initiate contempt proceedings against the advocates involved in the assault on Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy on February 17or not. Besides the ACJ, Justice D Murugesan, Justice Prabha Sridevan, Justice V Dhanapalan and Justice K Chandru comprised the bench. The unprecedented constitution of a five-judge bench in the Madras High Court probably created panic among the accused lawyers; hence the FIR against Dr. Swami and resort to violence.

    The Supreme Court, which heard a petition from Chennai-based advocate R Muralidharan through advocate S. Balaji seeking action against the striking lawyers, on 20 Feb. issued notices to the Madras High Court Advocates Association, Registrar General of Madras High Court, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, Bar Council of India and Madras Bar Association. The petitioner sought a direction to declare the strike by lawyers as illegal and directions for resumption of work in all Courts in the state. The petitioner cited the Apex Court’s 2003 judgment which virtually barred lawyers from going on strike. …//

  3. //’Brahmin Dog! Brahmin Dog! Subramanian Swami Brahmin Dog!
    Anti-Tamil Brahmin Dog! Subramanian Swami Brahmin Dog!
    Get away, get away! Rajiv killer get away!’

    These were the slogans raised inside court room 3 of Madras High Court by a team of lawyers who threw eggs on Dr. Subramanian Swami, who was seeking to implead himself in support of the Dikshitars in the Chidambaram Temple case, listed for hearing on 17 February 2009.

    A group of lawyers belonging to pro-LTTE political parties and outfits has been boycotting the court proceedings thereby preventing other sincere lawyers from doing their duty, since January end. They have been engaged in a daily practice of going around the corridors in procession inside the Madras High Court shouting slogans against the Sri Lankan government and in support of Sri Lankan Tamils (read LTTE)…..//


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