Madras HC erupts again: Lawyers refuse to be tamed by new rules set by judges

Trouble is brewing at the Madras HC, and it is lawyers versus judges yet again
Madras HC erupts again: Lawyers refuse to be tamed by new rules set by judges
Madras HC erupts again: Lawyers refuse to be tamed by new rules set by judges
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Following the recent revision of disciplinary rules for practicing lawyers at Madras High Court, lawyers from across the state came together in huge numbers on Monday in Chennai asking the High Court to withdraw the rules.

Madras High Court recently came up with new rules for advocates under the Advocates Act 1961 on May 28, 2016. According to the new rules, the judges of Madras High Court and other subordinate courts will be allowed to take action against the lawyers. It includes rules according to which lawyers will be punished for accepting money or tampering with the court order, and also for appearing in the court under the influence of alcohol. 

The lawyer associations have countered the new ruled with several resolutions at the rally. They stated that the “rules are a slur on the reputation of the entire lawyers’ community and affect the right to practise fearlessly as stipulated under the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India rules.”

 They also said that that the rules nullify the rights guaranteed to the lawyers.

Paul Kanagaraj, President of Madras High Court Advocates’ Association told The News Minute, “The rules passed are against the practice of independence of lawyers. In one of the rules, it is stated that if a lawyer is found abusing a judge, he/she will be temporarily or permanently debarred. If the court itself is going to punish then there will be no safety for lawyers.”

He also said that the high court does not have the right to do this and that the court must withdraw the new rules.

The resolution claims that the introduction of the clause relating to “brow-beating” by lawyers and stipulating punishment for it would be a big blow to the free and fearless practice of a lawyer.

The lawyer associations feel that “brow beat” is very vague term and its potential misuse is difficult to fathom. A lawyer who put forwards his client’s case in a forceful manner may be understood by the judge as though he was being brow-beaten by the lawyer, the lawyers feel.

V Nalini, President of Women Lawyers Association said, “We have sent our resolution to the Chief Justice also. I feel the major issue is that we are not allowed ‘browbeat’ or raise our hands. We are opposing it as it is against our freedom of speech. It is for the bar council to take actions and not the judges.”

The associations also highlighted that Rule 14D which empowers the High Court and the Court of Principal District Judge to pass an interim orders prohibiting the advocate from appearing before the Court, pending enquiry. The lawyers state that it is a “Damocles’ Sword” and have asked to remove such a draconian rule.

Moreover, the lawyers allege that there is no grievances/complaints mechanism in place for the lawyers.

Kanagaraj added that if the new rules are not withdrawn then they will go against the judiciary and announce a new mode of agitation.

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