Advocate General wants to dissociate himself from process, fears it could be tainted by questionable practices
Advocate General Vijay Narayan has written to the Bar Council of India (BCI) accusing senior counsel S. Prabhakaran, “who styles himself as BCI co-chairman, a post not sanctioned by law” of attempting to thwart efforts to conduct free and fair elections to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTP). The BCTP is now administered by a Special Committee.
Mr. Narayan, who is the ex-officio chairman of the Special Committee, said it would not be proper on his part to associate the office of the Advocate General “in an election which may be tainted by certain questionable practices”. He urged the BCI to decide whether it would be expedient to appoint a retired Madras High Court judge, in consultation with the Chief Justice, to oversee the entire electoral process.
“While I am prepared to carry out the day-to-day functions of the Bar Council… I would like to dissociate myself from the entire process of conducting the election,” he said in the letter addressed to BCI chairman Mannan Kumar Misra.
“I think that the advocates of Tamil Nadu have the right to know the true state of affairs,” the letter said.
Recalling past events, he said that many State-level bar councils, including the BCTP, were at present administered by special committees as there were delays in conducting elections for them due to various reasons.
Around 52,000 advocates are members of the BCTP. The BCI initially nominated BCTP’s outgoing chairman D. Selvam and vice-chairman as members of the special committee.
Almost all other outgoing office-bearers were made members of an ad hoc committee. “I found this a little surprising since this appeared to be a backdoor entry for all the old bar council members,” the AG said.
However, all those nominees tendered resignations after the Madras High Court ordered that those who intend to contest in the forthcoming elections to the BCTP should not continue as committee members. Mr. Prabhakaran alone continued in office since he happened to be a member nominated by the BCTP to the BCI.
After the resignations, the BCI nominated senior counsel R. Singaravelan and advocate Chandrasekharan as members to the Special Committee. Mr. Narayan felt they were acting at the behest of Mr. Prabhakaran, “a candidate for the forthcoming election.”
The two advocates were nominated without consulting either him or the Chief Justice. Mr. Narayan said they were now thwarting attempts made by him to conduct the elections within the deadline fixed by the Supreme Court. He said that the two members had recently overruled his decision against delaying the elections to the BCTP.
To have a regulatory body comprising reputed and honourable advocates is the need of the hour, he said.
He accused a vociferous minority of effectively stalling urgent reforms that is needed for the legal profession much to the detriment of the silent majority.
“The entire judicial structure of the country is manned by persons who are drawn from only one source, namely lawyers, and unless systemic changes are made urgently, it does not bode well for the country itself,” Mr. Narayan said.