Taking a stern view of some advocates holding 'kangaroo courts' to resolve a dispute involving a medical college near here, the Madras High Court today directed that criminal action be taken against them.
The court also directed the Centre to take appropriate steps to streamline the legal profession and told the Bar Council to go in for tighter norms for both admission to law colleges and for approval to new ones.
Justice N Kirubakaran, passing orders on a plea by 17 MBBS students, impleaded the Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, UnionMinistry of Law and Justice, Law Secretary and the DGP of Tamil Nadu.
The petitioners, students of Annai Medical College and Hospital, sought a direction to the state government to transfer them to state-run colleges in view of the dispute between old and new trustees of the institution.
Perusing the photographs produced in the matter, the judge said, "It is alleged that both the parties had engaged the so-called advocates and the same is also evident".
He said the practice of hiring advocates to resolve disputes in an "extra-constitutional" fashion be stopped immediately. He directed that stern action be taken against them by the police and disciplinary measures by the Bar Council.
Directing the police to identify the persons in the photo and file a report on the present situation in the college, he said, "These people in black and white dress act like mafia."
The judge also said such persons "are stated to be indulging in kidnapping, extortion and other heinous crimes, taking advantage of their alleged status as lawyers".
Noting that the trend of taking properties by force by some advocates was prevalent in Tamil Nadu, the judge said, such alleged lawyers acted like extra constitutional authority.
"It is a classic case to demonstrate why people do not exhibit their faith either in the judiciary or in the police and have faith only on persons clad in black and white dress claiming themselves to be advocates, to be engaged as paid hooligans to involve in property disputes".
This is why verification of antecedents is necessary before enrolment as advocates, since a section of them buy law degrees from colleges that exist only on paper in states like Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the judge said.
The issue was dealt with by a division bench in another matter and the Bar Council was directed to get the individuals' antecedents verified before enrolment.
"Such people who purchase law degrees from letter pad institutions only prefer to indulge in 'Katta Panchayat' (kangaroo court) under the guise of resolving civil disputes," he added.
Without availability of any work, the so-called advocates naturally would indulge in such illegal ways to resolve disputes, he noted.
The judge stressed tighter norms like a minimum of 75 per cent marks in Class 12 exam for admission to law colleges, and approval to new law colleges only on the basis of principle of demand and supply to address the issue.
The Union Government has to take appropriate steps to set right the legal profession based on the recommendations of the law commission, otherwise things will go out of control, the judge added.
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