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The Bar Council of Puducherry and Tamil Nadu (BCTN) has dropped disciplinary proceedings against two advocates, which were initiated earlier this month following their verbal spat with the driver of a Madras High Court judge.
The disciplinary proceedings were halted in view of the unconditional apology rendered by advocate L Shika Sarmadan and her husband, advocate S Sahul Hameed for the conduct complained of.
A complaint made by the Personnel Security Officer of the Madras High Court judge disclosed that the two advocates stopped the car of a Madras High Court judge and verbally abused the driver of the High Court judge’s car while en route to Court.
Further, the duo later created a commotion at the judge’s residence a few days after the first incident. While suspending the advocates for such unprofessional conduct, the BCTN noted that both episodes were witnessed by the public, thereby damaging “the faith and confidence of the people on the Honorable Judges and the judiciary as a whole.”
The suspension of the advocates, in turn, appears to have provoked certain members of the bar to lash out at the BCTN for their disciplinary action. As noted by the BCTN in their revocation order dated August 16,
“The same [disciplinary action of suspension] was given widespread publicity by the advocates by way of WhatsApp messages attacking and supporting the action of the Bar Council of Tamilnadu and Puducherry.
In fact, one of the members of the Bar invited all the advocates to unite together and fight for the suspended advocates without even ascertaining the truth and seriousness of the complaint.
Some of the Advocates welcomed the action of the Bar Council for taking action against the advocates as they felt that it was a serious misconduct.”
Nevertheless, the advocate couple has rendered their unconditional apology to the High Court judge, who accepted the same. As noted in the BCTN revocation order,
“It is to be noted that the above said advocates, uninfluenced by any of the comments made for and against them, had straight away gone to the Chamber of the Hon’ble Judge at Madurai, realising their mistake, and tendered an unconditional apology and further gave an undertaking that they would not resort to any such misconduct in future.
The Hon’ble Judge by taking note of their age and wholehearted realization of their mistake magnanimously accepted the same.”
Further, the couple has submitted a letter of unconditional apology to the Special Committee of the BCTN. An accompanying affidavit also contains an undertaking that they will not resort to such misconduct in the future.
In view of the same, the BCTN dropped the disciplinary proceedings initiated against the advocates and revoked their suspension.
However, before parting with its order, the BCTN also emphasised that public authorities, including the BCTN, cannot afford to be swayed by the public criticism launched against them in the discharge of their duties.
The BCTN has concluded its order on the following note,
“While quoting the above passages of the law laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court we repeat that the persons discharging public duties may very often be subjected to criticism and should not be carried away by bad or good comments of others. At the same time, one has to visualize the adverse impact of the same on the affected parties.
We are happy that everything ended smoothly because of the magnanimous and immediate response of the Hon’ble Judge, as well as the realization of the mistake committed by the respondents though belated but heartfelt.
In the result, the matter stands closed once for all.”
Read the BCTN order dated August 16, 2018: