The Madras High Court recently comprising of a bench of Justice M Dhandapani while dismissing a lawyer’s anticipatory bail plea over an alleged Covid-19 lockdown violation observed that, the Advocates are not above the Law and Bar Council should initiate Suo moto disciplinary actions against advocates who abject the legal fraternity with unruly conduct in public. (Tanuja Rajan @ Tanuja Kanthula and anr v. State).

The Court held that, “Usage of the position of advocate aside from important causes is nothing but an act of corrupt nature, which needs to be impeded by the sword held in the hands of the statue of Justice.”

The court said this while refusing to grant anticipatory bail to a woman advocate caught on video abusing police personnel for issuing a challan to her daughter for lockdown violation. 

The bench pointing out that it was unclear as to how the Bar Council dealt with unprofessional conduct of advocates in the absence of a complaint said, “The status report is silent, which would only lead to the inference that generally no action is taken against such persons, if there is no complaint before the Bar Council.” 

It was also not clear whether BCI has deliberated on initiating suo motu action against unruly members of the bar who damage the stature and sanctity of the institution and its members, the court said while passing orders on the plea filed by the advocate and her daughter, a fourth-year law student. 

Holding that incident not only demeaned the legal fraternity in front of the public, but was also a clear misuse of her position as an advocate to further her cause, Justice Dhandapani said, “This court cannot take a lenient view to the benefit of the woman advocate, as such an act by this court would send a wrong signal to the whole society that judiciary is falling into an unenviable trap laid down by certain unscrupulous elements like the advocate to axe the whole legal fraternity and push them into oblivion.”

Reprieve for daughter: However, holding that initiating criminal proceedings against the daughter was totally unwarranted, the court granted her anticipatory bail and also directed the police to drop all charges against the girl as it was without substance. 

“The law enforcement agency, while charging persons, should also keep in mind the future of the individual and not get carried away by emotions, by filing such cases. Not each and every individual who commits a mistake should be branded as a criminal by bringing the individual within the four corners of the penal code,” the bench noted.

The bench also directed the registry to initiate suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against advocate R Krishnamoorthy, who released an audio recording imputing motives to the court of taking a biased view in favour of the police ignoring the excesses during lockdown.

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