S. Baskar Mathuram vs. The State of Tamil Nadu (Madras High Court)

COURT:
CORAM: ,
SECTION(S):
GENRE:
CATCH WORDS: ,
COUNSEL:
DATE: August 22, 2016 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: August 26, 2016 (Date of publication)
AY: -
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CITATION:
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer to gain popularity and publicity and attract more clients amounts to an unethical practice of soliciting work and is in violation of the Code of Conduct. The Media should not publish the names of the advocates who appeared in any case as it is an indirect method of soliciting work or indulging in advertisement of the professional abilities or skills of the advocates. The Media should also not publish the names of the Judges unless it is so essentially required

(i) The whole basis for instituting this writ petition seeking extravagant reliefs appears to be an unfortunate incident which is alleged to have taken place on 05.08.2016 in some remote rural area of this part of the State. It appears that some of the newspapers also carried a news item, on 07.08.2016. That inspired the writ petitioner to file this writ petition. It appears that he is a practitioner of law. If a practitioner of law is seeking to use the platform of High Court for purposes of gaining popularity and publicity, so that he will be able to attract more number of clients, if not the alleged victims themselves in this case, it would amount to an unethical practice of soliciting work on one’s part. When once the Code of Conduct is prescribed by the Bar Council of India to be always adhered to and followed by every practitioner of law, any attempt to overreach the situation and also to breach it, even in an indirect manner, as has been done in the present case, it must attract necessary corrective action.

(ii) We therefore, direct the Registrar (Judicial) of this Bench to place a copy of the affidavit filed by the writ petitioner in this case before the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry at Chennai for initiating necessary action for the breach of Code of Ethics and professional conduct by the writ petitioner. In the event the Bar Council agrees with our prima facie opinion that the writ petition is instituted by a practicing lawyer, seeking publicity and mileage for his professional activity rather than propelled by genuine desire to protect the larger public-good and interest, the Bar Council shall take appropriate action. We hope and trust that the Bar Council will be placing its ‘action taken report’ before this Court within a period of six months.

(iii) Often times, we have been noticing that the Print and Electronic Media is carrying on publication of the names of legal practitioners as well as the names of the Judges of the High Court concerned, who dealt with particular cases, publication of names of practitioners who may have appeared for one party or the other in a particular case can lead to an indirect method of soliciting or indulging in advertisement of the professional abilities or skills of the advocates. We, therefore, direct the Registrar (Administration) of this Bench to immediately circulate instructions to all Print, Electronic and Media Houses not to publish the names of the practitioners as part of news item.

(iv) We also direct, for the present, the Registrar (Administration) to request the Print, Electronic and Media House, not to publish the individual names of the Judges unless it is so essentially required. The reason being every Judge of the High Court is carrying on with his work sitting in a particular division/roster as assigned by My Lord The Hon’ble Chief Justice. The Judges do perform their duties dispassionately and to the extent possible by not allowing their individual notions and philosophies to be a guiding factor in deciding the causes brought before them. Therefore, we feel that the names of the Judges should not be published and on the other hand, the name of the High Court alone should be published.

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