Madras High Court judges differ on setting up branches of SC, BCI, Tribunals in regions

By PTI

CHENNAI: Two judges of the Madras High Court, one the senior, who had retired recently and the other a junior one, have differed in the long-pending demands for establishing branches or regional benches of the Supreme Court, Bar Council of India and other Tribunals in the regions, to cover and spread all over India.

While Justice N Kirubakaran (since retired) has strongly recommended setting up of the above courts in the regions to cover the entire population of 136 crores in the South, East and Western regions of India, Justice R Pongiappan, differed from him.

He simply said he is neither supporting the opinion of the senior judge nor making any comments/remarks on the issue.

However, both the judges were unanimous in rejecting a plea from a litigant, recently, making certain allegations against the advocate whom he had engaged in connection with a case.

According to Karthik Ranganathan, he had sent a complaint against the advocate to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, but its Disciplinary Committee rejected his plea to take penal action against the advocate.

Instead of moving the appellate authority — Bar Council of India in New Delhi, he moved the Madras High Court to quash the Bar Council order and take action against the advocate.

The petitioner contended that he was unable to travel to New Delhi, as the appeal against the order passed by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has to be filed before the Bar Council of India, which is located 2,186 km away from Chennai.

Keeping the Courts and Tribunals only in New Delhi would amount to a denial of justice to the majority of people living in faraway places from New Delhi, he further contended.

Concurring with him, Justice Kirubakaran observed that the demands for setting up the benches of the Supreme Court, BCI and other Tribunals are all matters of great purport and importance, which cannot be swept under the carpet, for, the earlier we deal with them as a nation, the better it would be for us and for the generations that will come after us.

“These observations are being made not as a lament in the darkness, or an irrelevant obiter.

This Court expects some action from the Central government in this regard, one way or the other, with the government is required to apply its mind on a method to remedy this perilous situation at the earliest, including amendment of Constitution for the establishment of regional Bench of the Supreme Court, as recommended by various Law Commissions of India and the Parliamentary Affairs Committees.

The authorities concerned may consider constituting circuit benches/permanent benches of all tribunals located in New Delhi including Bar Council of India and the Supreme Court for each Zone for the benefit of common man, at the earliest,” he said. However, Justice Pongiappan said that he is not agreeable to the views of the senior judge.

“I have gone through the judgment and I am of the view that the views and observations given (by the senior judge) in certain paragraphs (para.3, 4 and 19 to 32) in the judgment are not related to the prayer sought for in the writ petition.

Hence, with great respect, I am unable to persuade myself to subscribe to the views taken by my esteemed brother.

Accordingly, except approving the decision in negating the writ petition, I am not agreeing with the views and observations made in the above-referred paragraphs of this judgment,” he said.

Both the judges disposed of the petition with a direction to the petitioner to approach the BCI in New Delhi.