Madras HC lawyers protest over amendments in Advocate Act
Chennai: Thousands of lawyers protested at the Madras High Court on Monday demanding the immediate withdrawal of recently introduced rules that seek to check unruly behaviour and unethical practices by lawyers.
The lawyers shouted “CJ Kaul down down”—Sanjay Kishan Kaul is the chief justice of Madras High Court—as they demanded withdrawal of the amendments introduced in May to the Advocates Act, 1961.
The immediate provocation is the Bar Council of India (BCI) decision on Sunday to suspend 126 Tamil Nadu lawyers and prohibit them from practising in any court or tribunal in the country.
They were suspended under the new rules that give the court power under the Advocates Act to bar advocates who indulge in activities such as trying to influence a judge or participate in a procession inside the court complex or holds placards inside the court hall, among other offences.
Protesting the amended rules, the Joint Action Committee of various bar associations had announced sit-ins at the Madras high court, Madurai high court bench and subordinate courts on Monday.
The Bar Council had told lawyers to wind up their protests by 22 July, warning that those leading the protests would be suspended and barred from contesting Bar Council elections and holding posts in the council.
The Council said it had decided to suspend some members of the Joint Action Committee and “a few other unruly members who are actively and regularly creating problems in the administration of justice and in due discharge of duties of the genuine practicing lawyers.”
The Madras high court notification making amendments to existing rules under the Advocates Act was aimed at ensuring “peaceful” conduct of court proceedings and suggested disciplinary action against erring advocates.
Such advocates shall be barred from appearing before the high court or subordinate courts permanently or for such periods as the court may think fit.
Since the amendment in May, lawyers have taken out rallies and shouted slogans in protests that reached their peak on Monday, when advocates from all the districts gathered in Chennai.
The protesters said that the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu had sided with the judges.
Chief justice Kaul criticised the failure of lawyers to come forward and discuss the issue. “The protest is continuing because the lawyers are obstinate,” Kaul said adding that he himself was an advocate once before becoming the judge.
Security at all entrances to the Madras high court was beefed up with personnel from the Chennai city police and the Central Industrial Security Force.
Police personnel armed with tear gas shells, and anti-riot “Vajra” vehicles were stationed around the court complex. Only advocates who had a case listed were allowed to enter the court premises after a thorough frisking.
With inputs from PTI