Mohamed Imranullah S.
4 provisos inserted to Rule 14 of the rules framed by High Court on January 21, 1970
MADURAI, May 28, 2016
The Madras High Court has amended its 46-year-old statutory rules and paved the way for debarring from practice lawyers who browbeat or abuse judges, lay siege to court halls, tamper with court records, appear in court under the influence of liquor, spread unsubstantiated allegations against judges or accept money either in the name of a judge or on the pretext of influencing him.
The amendment notified in the Government Gazette on Wednesday provides for inserting as many as four provisos to Rule 14 of the rules framed by the High Court on January 21, 1970 by exercising powers conferred on it under Section 34(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961 to lay down conditions subject to which an advocate shall be permitted to practice in the High Court and subordinate courts.
Ever since its formulation in 1970, Rule 14 provided for debarring advocates found guilty of contempt of court. However, the latest inclusion of Rule 14A to Rule14D empowers the High Court as well as the court of Principal District Judge (PDJ) in every district to debar advocates indulging in misconduct, such as sending representations to superior courts with unfounded allegations against judges.
While Rule 14A lists out the misconducts such as participating in processions inside court campuses and holding placards inside court halls, liable for punishment, Rule 14B empowers the PDJs to debar lawyers for misconduct in their courts and also on receipt of report of misconduct from subordinate judicial officers. Rule 14C makes provision for affording an opportunity of hearing the lawyer before debarring. However, significantly, Rule 14D empowers the High Court as well as the PDJs to pass interim orders debarring lawyers from practising in any court in the State, pending inquiry into allegations of misconduct. The amendments have come as a shocker to a majority of lawyers.
Code of conduct
S. Srinivasa Raghavan, former vice-president, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Bar Association, recalled that a ‘code of conduct,’ similar to the present rules, was formulated by the High Court in 2004 when Chennai lawyers indulged in large-scale protests against establishment of the Madurai Bench. “My reaction to the latest amendment is mixed. I don’t find anything wrong in acting against those who take out processions and come to courts in an inebriated mood. But punishment for browbeating and behavioural derelictions inside a court hall might lead to anarchy and misuse of the power.”