Bar Council Leaders are not Political Leaders: Madras High Court

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The High Court of Madras, on December 18’ 2020, granted police protection to an Advocate who was suspended by the Nagercoil Bar Association for not abiding by the Boycott Call of the Association. The court said that the Bar Council Leaders are not Political Leaders and they can’t call Strikes when People are approaching the Courts for Grievance Redressal.

A two-judge bench, comprising of Justice N. Kirubankara and Justice Pugalendhi was set-up for the hearing of the present case. The bench put an interim stay on the Advocate’s suspension and have permitted him to attend the Court as well as the Bar Room.

Facts:

Advocate G. Sivakumar, went to the court seeking redressal for the Grievance of his clients, where, after the hearing, he voiced his issue of being barred from the Court as well as the Bar Room, of the Association he is a member of. He claimed that the respondent (II), Nagercoil Bar Association, called for a boycott of Courts on December 8’ 2020 with regard to the Farmers issue. However, the petitioner had to attend the court on the said date in order to argue a case before the Judicial Magistrate, Nagercoil. These actions of the petitioner left no choice but for the Association to suspend him from the association.

The Association accordingly issued a Show Cause Notice on December 14’ 2020, dated December 9’ 2020.

Advocate G. Sivakumar, while putting forth his arguments, claimed that he was not allowed to enter any of the Courts, denying him his Statutory right to discharge his obligation to his client. As per his submissions, he was not allowed to enter the premises of the Association, Library, and not even the Washroom.

Subsequently, a complaint was filed by Advocate G. Sivakumar to the Bar Council of Tamilnadu and Pondicherry on December 16’2020, and further approached the High Court of Madras, challenging the order passed by the Nagercoil Bar Association, according to which he was suspended from the Association on December 14’ 2020.

Judgement:

“Legal profession is a noble profession, where Advocates are supposed to discharge their duties not only towards their clients and also duties to the Society. However, nowadays, quite often, advocates are indulging in strikes and disturbing the functioning of the Courts. Even for political reasons, some of the associations are indulging in boycotts, according to the Political Affinity of communal affiliations and various other reasons.”, observed the Court.

The court, while taking into the circumstances under which the petitioner was suspended by the Association, concluded that there is a likelihood of abuse and assault to the Advocate, and hence, granted Police Protection for the same.

Regarding the case, the court also remarked,

“This results in affecting not only the rights of the litigants but also the Advocates, who are ready to discharge their statutory duty as per the Advocates Act and the Bar Council rules”.

While passing the order, the court also noted that advocates belong to a noble profession and the Bar Leaders are neither labor leaders nor political leaders, for them to call for a strike regarding any political situation prevailing in the country. The Bar cannot resort to strikes when there are people approaching the court seeking grievance redressal.

With regard to the present case, the court observed,

“It is clear that the petitioner has not abided the boycott call given by the second respondent, which is illegal, and attended the Courts and therefore, he is taken to the task, for having discharged his legal duty, the petitioner is now being singled out and targeted by suspending him from the Association.”

The court observed that the petitioner only fulfilled his professional duty and took part in a proper justice delivery system and can not be punished for the same, and therefore, the Bar Council of Tamilnadu and Puducherry has been directed to take appropriate action against the Bar Association, which called for the strike under Section 14(a) of the Tamilnadu Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act, 1987.


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