HC orders action against seven lawyers

Upset over practices in motor accident claims jurisdiction

Bemoaning the motor accident claims jurisdiction being ridden with bad and pernicious practices due to cut throat competition among lawyers to make money, the Madras High Court on Tuesday ordered disciplinary action against seven advocates for reportedly indulging in poaching of clients from one another, filing multiple claims for same accidents, withdrawing money after the death of the victims and so on.

Justice P.N. Prakash directed the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to initiate the disciplinary proceedings. The order was passed on the basis of four interim reports submitted by an expert body constituted by the court under the chairmanship of Justice K. Chandru, a retired judge of the court. He also gave sufficient opportunity to the seven lawyers to file their replies and was stunned to read their affidavits.

“This court chose to ask the advocates to read the affidavits filed by them, in public court, for good reasons. The averments in the said affidavits were stunning but not shocking considering the ills which had been identified and flagged off already. There were accusations and counter accusations, advocates accusing one another of fraud/forgery/fabrication, the whole works, in the practice of this jurisdiction,” the judge said.

He went to point out that one of the seven advocates had already been prosecuted by the Central Bureau of Investigation for filing a false claim and that case had ended up in acquittal. Another lawyer was convicted for attacking a fellow practitioner due to competitive claims for an accident. “A mere reading of the said affidavits would show what is wrong with this jurisdiction in the very words of the practitioners.

“There cannot be a more direct and damning evidence of possible misconduct in their professional practice, if true. In effect, the advocates themselves had accused one another of whatever this court was put on notice of as possible happenings as the underbelly in this jurisdiction which is full of money. Start to finish, it is moolah or lucre that seems to be dominating the conduct of the practitioners,” the judge rued.

He added that the affidavits only lead to a conclusion that everything which the expert body had noted in its interim reports had been candidly confessed to and laid bare by the advocates themselves. Upon reading the averments in the said affidavits, it would be clear as daylight that there was a dire need to introduce further measures to cleanse this welfare jurisdiction, the judge said and decided to await the final report from Justice Chandru before passing further orders.

Further, referring to a CB-CID probe ordered by him into theft of 70 case bundles belonging to a particular lawyer from a motor accident claims tribunal situated on the High Court campus, Justice Prakash said: “This is a shameful episode in the history of the hoary tradition of this court. If the court cannot assure the litigants of the safety of the physical documents in the pursuit of justice, then, administration of justice in precept and practice becomes wobbly.”

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