The Madras High Court has stayed till March 1 the procedure set out by it for filing vakalat to weed out fake advocates which called upon all advocates to mandatorily furnish their enrolment IDs and photographs while filing vakalat.
A bench of Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice RMT Teeka Raman stayed the procedure set out by Justice S Vaidyanathan in November 2017, which was to come into effect from this January 2.
It also suspended till final disposal of the petition before it the guideline which provided that petitions in criminal cases can be filed in the form of a petition.
Following his order, a notification was issued by the Registrar General on December 20, 2017, asking all the heads of the sections of this registry, both in the principal seat of Madras and the Madurai benches of Madras High Court, Madurai, to not to accept any vakalat/ memo of appearance if it does not contain the enrollment number, mobile number and complete residential address of the counsel on record as well as the advocate who has attested the vakalat and affidavit.
The development had been a cause of unpleasantness among the advocates.
The procedure/ guidelines as set out by Justice Vaidyanathan are as under:
(i) Vakalath/Memo of Appearance shall be filed along with clear photo Identity Cards of the Advocates-on-record; Advocates, who do not have photo Identity Cards, shall obtain the same from the Bar Council, without which, it shall not be entertained (This condition pertains only to those Vakalats filed from 02.01.2018).
(ii) Attesting Advocates shall also file proof of Identity Card to enable the Advocate-on-record to file it along with their Vakalat/Memo of Appearance.
(iii) In addition to the residential address, it is open to the Advocates-on-record as well as the Attesting Advocates to furnish their office address.
(iv) Petitions in Criminal cases can be filed in the form of a petition.
(v) All the petitions filed before the Criminal Court shall be duly signed by the Advocate-on-record, on all pages together with Enrolment Number; Courts below are entitled to cross-check the proof produced, if they suspect the same.
(vi) Whenever the Identity Card is demanded for verification by any Court/Registry, the same shall be produced by the Advocates.
In its order on Wednesday, the division bench said, “There were no serious objections with regard to Clauses (iii), (v) (vi), which are optional in nature. However, taking note of the practical difficulties expressed by the Advocates-on-record, it is made clear that Clauses (i) and (ii) of the impugned circular shall come into force on and with effect from 01.3.2018, instead of today. As far as Clause (iv) is concerned, in view of the judgment of the Division Bench of this Court cited above (Sasikala vs State by Inspector of Police), it is stayed pending disposal of the writ petitions”.
“As the circular in question relates to the Identity card issued to the Advocates, by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, we are of the considered view that the said Bar Council is a necessary party for adjudication and hence, the Bar Council of Tamil and Puducherry has been impleaded suo motu as the third respondent to the writ petition,” it added.
The division bench granted the stay after advocates aired their grievances and practical difficulties in implementing the guidelines.
Senior counsel ARL Sundaresan also submitted that the Bar Council is in the process of issuance of Identity Card in respect of old members and the process may take some time.
To this, the bench ordered, “It is made clear that on issuance of the identity card by the Bar Council within a reasonable time, the Advocates shall furnish a copy of the same in each of the petitions filed by them, which shall be subject to the outcome of the writ petitions”.
The bench also heard advocate NGR Prasad, VR Kamalanathan, secretary of the Madras Bar Association, and V Nalini, president, Women Lawyers’ Association.
The bench was informed that the circular issued by the Registrar with regard to the regulations that has to be followed at the time of filing of vakalat and the affidavit in various proceedings before this Court as well as the Subordinate Courts, is not in consonance with Order III, Rule 8 of the High Court Appellate Side Rules and Section 125 of the Civil Procedure Code.
Justice Vaidyanathan had passed the guidelines in a case emanating out of a matrimonial dispute where the accused persons had filed multiple anticipatory bail applications and engaged new counsels. Some of these counsels who had attested the vakalat had given fake enrolment number.