The Supreme Court has expressed anguish at the behaviour of lawyers of the Madras high court, saying they had instilled a “fear psychosis” in the minds of judges with their threats.
A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu on Monday specifically referred to the recent incident in the Madras high court and its Madurai bench, where a “mob” of lawyers were demanding Tamil as the official language in courts.
It said the incident meant that judges have to “constantly live under fear psychosis”.
The Chief Justice wondered why no action had been taken against the errant lawyers.
“How can we function when we sit under fear psychosis inside the court, fearing a mob may come in anytime? Why hasn’t the bar association of the high court done anything? What is the Bar Council of India (BCI) – the advocates’ top disciplinary body – doing?” he said.
Dattu was forced to speak out about his concerns when the bench was hearing a petition filed by the high court’s registrar general to challenge an order passed by Justice CS Karnan in a suo motu proceeding, in which he had threatened contempt action against the high court’s chief justice.
In May, the Supreme Court had stayed all proceedings in this matter.
Senior counsel KK Venugopal, who was appearing for the high court, told the bench that the recent incidents and ruckus in the Madras high court had halted work there, and lawyers were organising processions within the campus on the basis of caste, shouting slogans and making scurrilous allegations against judges who passed adverse orders.
Dattu described the lawyers’ demand as impractical. “How can a vernacular language be the official language of any court?” he said.
The Madras high court had lost its value after the incident, he observed. “As a law student, I was told by my senior to go to this high court and learn advocacy. All is lost,” the Chief Justice said.
Dattu said he had spoken with the high court’s chief justice, who will soon take action.
Sources said the Union law minister met Dattu on Monday evening to take stock of the situation.