The Madras High Court deprecated the resolution passed by the Madurai Bar Association that condemned the judicial order of Justice N. Kirubakaran for mandating wearing helmets by two-wheeler riders.

The Court took suo motu cognizance against the contemnors and the genesis of the suo-motu contempt petition commenced from a letter of the Principal District Judge, Madurai.

A Division Bench comprising Justice M.S. Ramesh and Justice Sunder Mohan said, “We would like to place on record our dis-satisfaction and disappointment to the manner in which the lawyers at Madurai had resorted to a coercive action over a judicial order passed by a learned single Judge of the Madras High Court.. We deem it unnecessary to point out to the learned members of the Bar Association about the effective alternate remedy available to them against an order of the Court, if it is found to be unacceptable or unimplementable.”

Advocate V. Vijayashankar represented the petitioner while Advocate N.G.R. Prasad represented the contemnors.

Brief Facts -

The suo-motu contempt petition commenced from a letter of the Principal District Judge, Madurai that was addressed to the Registrar General of the High Court, highlighting the resolutions passed by the Madurai Bar Association in 2015, in a letter head signed by P. Dharmaraj and A.K. Ramasamy, claiming themselves to be the President and Secretary of the Madurai Bar Association respectively. The resolution touched upon a judicial order passed by Justice N. Kirubakaran (as he then was), mandating wearing of helmets by the two-wheeler riders in Tamil Nadu State. The Chief Justice made reference to a Division Bench, presided over by Justice S. Tamilvanan and Justice C.T. Selvam (as they then were), for initiation of suo motu contempt proceedings. On being satisfied with the records before it, the Division Bench issued statutory notice to the contemnors and on their appearance, copies of the contempt petition were served on them.

When it was brought to the notice of the Division Bench that a procession was organized by some Advocates from the Madurai District Court premises to the Madurai Bench of the High Court premises, the Bench called upon the Director General of Police, Chennai, to inquire and file a report. Contrary to such directions, the Inspector General of Police, Welfare, Chennai, filed a Sub Application before the Bench for modification of paragraph 8 of the order and certain remarks made in the Sub Application were found as an act of disobedience of the order of the Division Bench. On accepting unconditional apology, the Bench closed the sub-application without any adverse remarks against the police officer. The suo-motu contempt petition was therefore listed before the Bench.

The High Court in view of the above facts observed, “With regard to the involvement of the contemnors are concerned, though it cannot be ruled out that both of them were party to the concerted action, it would not be appropriate to isolate these two lawyers alone and proceed with further action. We would hasten to add here that we are not condoning their involvement in the contemptuous acts.”

In their affidavits filed in the Suo-Motu Contempt Petition, though both the contemnors denied the charges levelled against them and rendered certain explanations, the Court took note of the unconditional apologies tendered by them. Both the contemnors, who were more than 70 years of age, also expressed the respect they have for the judiciary.

“In consideration of the fact that several other lawyers had admittedly participated in the agitation and by accepting the unconditional apologies rendered by both the contemnors, namely P.Dharmaraj and A.K.Ramasamy, no further action is required against them”, concluded the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court closed the suo-motu contempt petition.

Cause Title- High Court of Madras v. P. Dharmaraj & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:MHC:2061)


Petitioner: Advocate V. Vijayashankar

Contemnors: Advocates N.G.R. Prasad, D. Nagasaila, Niranjan Rajagopal, and S. Rajagopalan.

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