HC recommends action against advocate for misbehaviour

Taking a serious note of an incident where an advocate misbehaved with a court staff in an inebriated condition on the court premises in Kamuthi, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the Principal District Judge, Ramanathapuram to refer the matter to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for initiating appropriate action against the advocate.

The court also directed the Ramanathapuram police to register an FIR against the advocate. The court was hearing the petition filed by an advocate S. Ramanathan. The petitioner said that he came to know that in May a woman court staff was sexually assaulted by an advocate, N. Muniyasamy, who was the president of Kamuthi Advocates’ Association. The petitioner took up the issue with the Magistrate in charge. He also spoke to fellow advocates for initiating action against the Bar Association President.

However, the petitioner was booked under Section 294 (b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place) of the Indian Penal Code. The de facto complainant was Muniyasamy. The petitioner filed the petition before the High Court seeking a direction to the authorities to register his complaint and initiate action against Muniyasamy for the alleged offence.

Since an allegation of sexual assault on court campus was made, Justice G.R. Swaminathan sought a report from the Ramanathapuram Principal District Judge. The report revealed that the woman had sought transfer to another court in April and alleged that she was being disturbed by Muniyasamy. The matter was then forwarded to the Gender Sensitisation and Internal Complaints Committee (GSICC committee).

The woman appeared before the committee and confirmed that the allegations made in her complaint were true. Since she was transferred to another court she did not want to pursue the matter against Muniyasamy. The committee decided not to take action against Muniyasamy and the complaint was closed. The occurrence was captured on CCTV camera and the footage was available.

The allegations are extremely serious. The matter concerns the safety of a woman employee and the sanctity of the court. While the complainant / victim may not want to pursue the matter because she was granted the relief of transfer, the court cannot be a mute spectator to the incident. It cannot gloss it over. Prima facie the materials show the Bar President in a drunken condition, misbehaving with a woman court staff on the court premises during working hours, the judge said.

The court said that the identity of the woman court staff should be strictly protected and appreciated the petitioner advocate Ramanathan for taking up the cause.

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