Echoing the Supreme Court’s view that legal profession has fallen to new depths, the Bar Council of India (BCI) took an “extraordinary” measure by suspending 15 advocates who allegedly indulged in the Madras High Court violence.
They were suspended without being given an opportunity to be heard first. But the BCI justified that the law allowed it to take extraordinary measures in exceptional cases when the health of the legal profession was at stake. These advocates have also been debarred from practising before any court or authority pending a disciplinary probe against them for “gross professional misconduct.”
The BCI directed the Tamil Nadu State Bar Council to conclude the disciplinary proceedings against them in a month.
The 15 advocates were zeroed in on the basis of communications from the BCI, by the Chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bar Council and the Registrar General of the Madras High Court. The Registrar General’s list had the names of two law college students who allegedly participated in the violence, the seven-page September-22 order authored by BCI Chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra noted.
The country’s top statutory authority for lawyers said the Madras High Court violence had opened a Pandora’s box, revealing the malaise and the sheer drop in the standards of the legal profession.
The BCI said the incidents of lawlessness and regular hooliganism highlighted how the Bar Councils and lawyers’ bodies cowered in terror as a growing number of persons with fake degrees vandalised courts and held judges and fellow professionals to the ransom.
Partly blaming the mushrooming of private law colleges which “casually” grant law degrees to all and sundry, the BCI saw the Madras High Court violence as the tipping point in the growing incidents of vandalism.
In the order, Mr. Mishra narrated that the most telling point was how the Tamil Nadu Bar Council Chairman expressed his inability to act against the errant lawyers, “particularly the leaders of the unruly advocates because of their muscle power, bad antecedents and criminal history.”
The BCI said there was no mechanism for the Bar Councils to gather the background of lawyers. It said the number of “non-practising and farzi (fake) lawyers have increased to such an extent that they are playing a vital role even in the constitution of Bar Associations and Bar Councils.”
The BCI action comes even as the Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu openly expressed his anguish in court how the Madras High Court judges developed a “fear psychosis” to lawyers mobbing against them and barging into their courtrooms. “This is a very strange and unfortunate situation,” the BCI order said.
Chief Justice Dattu on September 24 again referred to the Madras High Court violence in court, this time when a lawyer brought a PIL against the unruly scenes in the Parliament. “First learn to keep your house in order... When you have not kept your house clean how do you expect the parliamentarians to keep theirs,” the CJI remarked to the lawyer.