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Keywords – class discrimination, Madras high Court, Madras bar association

An unfortunate incident on discrimination had taken place in the Madras Bar Association in 2012. The facts which the complainants application contains were such, a practicing advocate of Madras, Mr. R Neil Roshan was once in 2012 was feeling dizzy and was in need of water so he went to the filter kept in the hall in order to quench his thirst. A point that could be noted here that as he was a young advocate so till this time he was not a member of the Madras Bar Association. He further stated that while he was filling his bottle a senior advocate named Mr. P H Pandian who was also a member of the Madras Bar Association, had snatched away his bottle and had also asked Mr. Roshan to go out.

              This application as well as a writ petition was filed by the father of Mr. Roshan in the Madras High Court. His petition had highlighted the culture of “exclusivity & elitism”. The application also stated that from a time period of 10 years the “syndicate senior advocates” only used to admit the relatives, juniors or other known ones of the senior advocates only as being the member of Bar Association and did not used to consider the membership application of different people. He also mentioned that since in the court the facilities were working on the public money so it can not be denied to anybody. The senior advocates were discriminatory in nature which used to deny the others from using public facilities. The Association was not at all democratic neither in nature nor in norm and not even in following the guidelines. Hence the petition seeks directions to be issued to the Bar Association as to notify how many applications are pending and how many existing members are the sons-daughters of the senior members.

             Since both that is, Mr. Roshan as well as Mr. Pandian is no more so the Madras Bar Association had denied all the allegations and termed them to be incorrect as well as defamatory in nature. And had also requested the Madras High Court to end the case as the individuals involved in this case were no more.

     The matter had went to the court of a single judge bench comprising of Justice S M Subramaniam. He laid down that such sort of social issues do not die with the persons and addressing them was necessary in lieu of public interest and such issues can not be left casually. The court mentioned that denial of a person to the drinking water on the ground that he was not a member of the Bar Association is very unwarranted and both the bar as well as the bench should avoid from such trivial matters. Court also pressed on the broad reading of Article 17, which not only includes caste based discrimination but also other social exclusions like class discrimination of hierarchy and subordination.

     The court also noticed on the restrictive conditions of the Madras Bar Association and had asked the members that whether their intention was to create an elite society in the association. Court denied on doing so at the cost of public money and also referred to the BCI Rules as well as Advocates Act. The Court also further noted that a creation of other criteria amongst lawyers would lead to losing of faith.

        The court has further asked the Bar Association to pay a compensation of 5 lakh rupees to the petitioner for the equality loss as well as also directed to accept the applications of the individuals as members of the association which was kept pending without any discrimination.

Written by – Yashashvi Mishra, College – S S Khanna Girls Degree College, University of Allahabad, Year – 2nd year 4th semester, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


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