The ongoing unrest among Tamil Nadu lawyers reached a high pitch on Monday, with the Bar Council of India taking the unprecedented step of suspending virtually the entire leadership of the section of lawyers protesting against disciplinary rules for lawyers introduced in May.
On Monday morning, lawyers gathered for a protest outside the Indian Oil station opposite China Bazaar, a kilometer away from the Madras High Court. Heavy police presence marked the area, with police outnumbering the protesting lawyers at around 9.30am.
Slogans of â€śBar Council down downâ€ť and â€śCJ Kaul down downâ€ť could be heard, with the protesting lawyers demanding that the Chief Justice, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, step down from his post.
High security was also deployed at the gates of the High Court, where only those lawyers with cases posted for today being allowed inside the complex after the proper checks. Multiple barricades were erected outside the entrances to the complex, and the Quick Response Team of the Tamil Nadu police were also deployed.
Although it had been reported that a massive entrance rokho was planned, no entrance rokho was being conducted at 9.30am, and lawyers and police both told TNM that only a protest was planned.
State Coordinator for Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu Advocates, Thirumalairajan, one of the 126 lawyers suspended by the BCI told the lawyers gathered for the protest to maintain peace and â€śpatience and calmâ€ť. â€śDonâ€™t fight with the police, donâ€™t embarrass themâ€¦ We are not fighting them,â€ť he said, adding, â€śBut our protest is strong and we will fight tooth and nail.â€ť He also told the gathered lawyers that the Chief Justice of Madras had â€śbecome a mental patientâ€ť.
Ahead of Mondayâ€™s protest, the BCI suspended 126 TN lawyers and prohibited them from practicing in any court or tribunal. The suspension came in light of calls from lawyers protesting against the newly amended rules of the Advocates Act to shut down the High Court and not allow even Judges to enter the court premises. The BCI had earlier given lawyers a July 22 deadline for winding up boycotts, and had warned that those leading the protesting lawyers would be suspended and debarred from contesting in Bar Council elections and holding posts in the council.
BCI Chairman Mannan Kumar Sharma said that while the Bar Council too had its own views on the recent disciplinary rules, it believed that strikes and boycotts were not the way to deal with the problem.
Besides these 126 lawyers, at least 44 lawyers had earlier been suspended for misconduct.
Watch the protest video here:
(This is a developing story and will be updated as more details become available.)