'Lawyers have no right to spawn violence'

Media protest after lawyers attack a TV cameraman at the Karnataka High Court.

Amidst all the outrage against the advocates of Karnataka High Court for allegedly resorting to violence and obstructing judges from discharging their duties on November 9, when the lawyers themselves boycotted the Court, there is also another opinion. A feeling that this entire incident could, perhaps, been averted, had Chief Justice P D Dinakaran voluntarily abstained from court proceedings, while the charges against him were being investigated.

Supreme Court Bar Association president M N Krishnamani, while condemning the action of the advocates who resorted to such a violent path, says that Justice P D Dinakaran should voluntarily abstain from holding courts as an inquiry instituted by the Chief Justice of India was pending against him. However he points out “If they (lawyers) had any objection to Justice Dinakaran holding the court, they could have abstained themselves from his courts. But putting common man and litigants in trouble, is very unbecoming on the part of those lawyers”.

On contempt proceedings contemplated against those lawyers, constitutional expert and legal luminary Rajeev Dhawan says, “Yes, these acts amount to contempt action. But they should be dealt with a warning so that such incidents did not recur.”

Advocate Prashant Bhushan too says that violence in ‘courts is totally wrong’. But he maintains that issuance of civil contempt notice against all the lawyers is wrong, rather criminal contempt notice should be issued against only those who created violence in the court premises.

Bhushan too supports the view that the situation would not have arisen, had Justice Dinakaran abstained himself from court proceedings.

Misconduct

In Narotamnmal Chaurasia vs M R Murali case, the Supreme Court has said, “Misconduct, inter alia, envisages breach of discipline, although, it would not be possible to lay down exhaustively as to what would constitute misconduct and indiscipline. However, it is wide enough to include wrongful omission or commission, whether done or omitted to be done intentionally or unintentionally.”

Analysing the observation of the apex court, it may be said that professional misconduct would be improper behaviour, intentional wrong doing or deliberate violation of rule of standard of behaviour. The Advocates Act, 1961 says that the misconduct is such that he must be regarded as unworthy to remain a member of the honourable profession. Section 35 of the Act speaks of imposition of punishment for professional or other misconduct.

As advocates are bound by high standards that define the legal profession, it is natural that the recent events have eroded people’s faithin them. This was summed up by Dhawan, who remarks “Even protesting against a just issue cannot be done in an unjust way.”

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