Chennai, Jul 18: The Madras High Court on Friday ordered enrolment of an eligible person as an advocate saying his enrolment could not be denied merely because he had a criminal case of burning effigy of a political leader pending against him.
Pointing out that there is no provision in IPC which makes burning of effigies a punishable offence, Justice V Ramasubramanian said the Constitution protected the act of burning effigies, if no other mischief was associated with it.
In the absence of a specific offence in IPC covering effigy-burning, police invariably charge persons who burn effigies only for an offence punishable under Section 285 which prohibits rash and negligent handling of fire or combustible matter as it would endanger public safety and human lives, Justice Ramasubramanian said.
The ruling came on a petition by A Santhos Yadav whose application for enrolment as an advocate was put on hold by the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in November 2014, as his name figured in a criminal case registered by Thirukoilur police in Villupuram district.
For over a year, it has been the practise of the Bar Council to verify the criminal antecedents, if any, of law graduates who apply for enrolment as advocates.
The practise came into being following an order of Justice N Kirubakaran as a precautionary measure to prevent entry of criminals in the legal profession.
Justice Ramasubramanian said Santhos Yadav was a district secretary of a political party and on October 4, 2014 he had organised an agitation against a political party leader at Thirukoilur. The political party leader's effigy was burnt on the occasion and a case was registered against him.
"The short question is whether the participation of a person in an agitation to advance a political cause and the burning of an effigy as part of the agitation could be taken to be something that will make the offender a person with criminal background so as to dis-entitle him from getting enrolled as an advocate", the Judge said.
"Persons charged with the allegation of burning effigies of political leaders to advance either the cause of a political party or a political philosophy cannot be said to belong to the category of persons whose entry into the profession should be barred.
Santhos Yadav cannot be stated to be a person with criminal background.", the judge said. He then directed the Bar Council to enroll Santhos Yadav as an advocate.