CHENNAI: Opening the floodgate of relief for over 45 suspended lawyers, a Division Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the Bar Council of India to revoke its order dated September 22, 2015 suspending advocate M Thirunavukkarasu, within a week.
The bench of Justices V Ramasubramanian and N Kirubakaran, however, made it clear that they were not interfering with the other part of the suspension order relating to disciplinary proceedings and that the revocation would be in respect of Thirunavukkarasu alone.
By an order dated September 22, 2015, the Bar Council of India in New Delhi suspended a group of 15 advocates, pending enquiry into serious allegations of misconduct. It is against this order that Thirunavukkarasu, who got elected as the president of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court Advocates Association subsequently, had come up with the writ petition.
Among other things, his senior counsel Ajmal Khan contended that the suspension was prolonged and its continuation, when there is no likelihood of the disciplinary proceedings getting concluded at the earliest, offended the right of livelihood of the petitioner.
After holding that the Bar Council had power to suspend the licence to practice, during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings, the Bench observed that the suspension of a government servant or any person on employment, which is always a prolonged procedure, stands on a different footing than that of the professionals. An employee under suspension is entitled to get a portion of the salary or wages as subsistence allowance.
A professional does not have such a benefit. Similarly, a person in employment is entitled to be compensated in monetary terms if the disciplinary proceedings go in his favour. This cannot happen in the case of a professional.
Therefore, the comparison sought to be made cannot stop only with the suffering, but also covers the extent of conduct also, the bench said. However, it is true that the order of suspension was passed on September 22. Now, a period of more than five months had elapsed. This contention is taken into consideration only for disposal of this case and it cannot be construed as a finding of fact by this Court, the judges said.
During the course of argument, his counsel indicated the credentials of the petitioner and contended that he did not do anything out of ill-will or out of disrespect to the system of administration of justice. And the bench granted the relief.