Supreme Court asks why Tamil Nadu lawyers go frequently on strike

February 19th, 2009 - 8:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The Supreme Court Thursday asked Tamil Nadu lawyers why they were striking work at the drop of a hat on issues ranging from changes in criminal laws to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan issued notices to the Madras High Court and various advocates’ bodies in the state, including the Madras Bar Association and the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu.

The bench which also included Justices J.M. Panchal and Asok Kumar Ganguly, issued notices on a lawsuit by R. Murlidharan, a professor of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Bangalore, who approached the apex court questioning the advocates’ commitment to their profession.

A former law professor of the Bangalore-based National Law School, Murlidharan also alleged that Tamil Nadu advocates have allowed the courts in the state to function for only nine days this year so far.

The bench issued notices hours before lawyers in Chennai protested violently and clashed with police following arrest of 17 lawyers. The arrests came after a group of lawyers threw rotten eggs on Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy inside the Madras High Court where he had gone to argue on his lawsuit.

The advocates thrashed Swamy after shouting slogans like “Brahmin dog, Down Down” and “Rajiv Gandhi’s killer, go away”, besides many other filthy slogans, said a Madras High Court order, a copy of which was also sent to the chief justice of India.

Murlidharan had come to the apex court invoking his right to move it directly in case of violation of one’s fundamental right, which includes his right to fair trial and court proceedings.

Like Swamy, the IIM professor too was not allowed to argue his case in a lower court of Chennai earlier during the lawyers’ strike in the state.

“There have been instances of individual lawyers having been tonsured for appearing in courts during the strike against the dictates by the lawyers’ bodies,” he said.

Murlidharan listed some of the dates on which the advocates called for the strike in the state - the Madras Bar Association called for state-wide strike for one day to several days from Jan 29, Feb 9, and Feb 10 among other dates.

“Advocates increasingly and frequently go on strike in Tamil Nadu and the work is repeatedly paralysed at the Madras High Court and its Madurai bench besides lower courts all through the state,” said Murlidharan.

He also pleaded to the apex court to call for a report from the Madras High Court on the number of judicial days lost due to lawyers’ strikes.

“There is an increasing trend of politicisation of bar in the state accompanied with violent tendencies,” said Murlidharan.

For example, he mentioned, several advocates ransacked shops around the Madras High court while in another incident they highjacked a bus and took it to the Shastri Bhawan to protest against the self-immolation by a youth to demand welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

–Indo-Asian News service


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