Chennai: The Madras high court has suspended till March 1, the operation of the new rules, which mandated advocates affix photo identity cards in vakalats. A division bench comprising Justices Huluvadi G. Ramesh and RMT Teeka Raman passed the interim order on a batch of petitions from Madras High Court Advocates Association represented by its secretary R. Krishnakumar and others, which sought to quash the circular issued by the registrar general dated December 29, 2017.
They also sought a direction to the registrar general to pass and number all cases filed in the court, strictly in accordance with the extant rules, excluding the provisions of the impugned circular.
Ordering notice to the suo motu impleaded respondent Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and the registrar general, returnable by four weeks, the bench directed the registrar general not to implement the circular relating to filing of vakalats/memo of appearance.
Following a single judge order, the registry issued a circular notifying that the rules made in the order would come into force from January 2. Aggrieved over the circular, the associations have filed the present petitions.
When the petitions came up for hearing, MHAA president G. Mohanakrishnan, advocates P.V.S. Giridhar and Raghavachari contended that the impugned order as also the judicial order on which it was asserted to be based, encroaches on the legislative powers of constitutional bodies and was a nullity and it was tainted with grave errors of jurisdiction. The single judge sitting on the judicial side and exercising statutory powers under the criminal procedure code has no power or jurisdiction to issue such directions, in any case, the same can be treated as guidelines which were directory and not mandatory, they added.
They said, “Most of the advocates have not renewed their identity card issued by the Bar Council. Now, in view of the new rules, thousands of them have made application to the council to renew the identity cards. Moreover, thousands of petitions were filed yesterday, but yet to be numbered because of the rules mentioned in the circular”, they added.