'No bar on legal help at Privilege panel hearing'

Published: 22nd January 2013 07:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd January 2013 07:55 AM   |  A+A-

Any person summoned by the Legislative Council can use the services of a lawyer to represent him before the Assembly Privilege Committee, the Madras High Court has ruled.

Justice K Chandru gave the ruling while passing orders on writ petitions from Gopal, editor of Tamil biweekly magazine Nakkheeran and his advocate E Edwig, on January 21.

Gopal sought to quash an order dated January 28 last year of the Assembly Secretary prohibiting him from engaging an advocate to defend his case before the Privilege Committee, which had issued a show cause notice (SCN) to him. The SCN was issued for publishing a news item defaming Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. Edwig prayed for a direction to the Assembly Secretary to accept his vakalat filed to represent Gopal before the committee.

Justice Chandru pointed out that no rule was framed by the Committee or by the House prohibiting the appearance of the counsel along with the person who was issued with the SCN.

On the other hand, the petitioner’s plea was rejected only on the ground that there was no rule for such a requirement. “Therefore, it is not a case where there is any legal impediment to permit an advocate of the choice of the affected person to appear,’’ the judge observed.


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