Apex court nod to probe against former Tamil Nadu Bar Council head

The Supreme Court Monday cleared the decks for an inquiry by the Bar Council of India against suspended chairman of the Tamil Nadu Bar Council (TNBC) R.K. Chandramohan for allegedly trying to influence Justice R. Raghupathy (since retired) of the Madras High Court in a bail matter concerning an acquaintance of former telecom minister A. Raja.

The apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain and Justice H.L. Dattu in their order said that the Bar Council of India will hold an independent inquiry without being influenced by the proceedings before the high court and the apex court as well.

The court said that since the process for holding fresh elections of the TNBC have already been initiated, thus the plea challenging the suspension of Chandramohan’s membership of the TNBC and consequent stepping down from its chairmanship has become infructuous.

However, whether Chandramohan could contest the ongoing election was not clear and could be a subject of interpretation. Both Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi and Prashant Bhushan held different views.

Appearing for Chandramohan, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi asked the court to say that it was not deciding the question of petitioner’s (Chandramohan’s) suspension as the term during which action was taken was coming to an end.

Faulting the high court order, Rohtagi said that ‘it (high court) could not order the suspension of my (Chandramohan) office which is statutory in nature.’ The senior counsel wondered if the high court could suspend a person from statutory office.

Rohtagi said that ‘The elections are on. Nominations are being invited. I (Chandramohan) intend to contest.’

At this the court asked: ‘If the high court is satisfied that the conduct of a person warrants action, should it keep quiet?’

Senior counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the petitioner E.G. Rajendran said that the conduct of Chandramohan was contemptuous and he should have been hauled for the contempt.

‘It was a gross contempt and interference with the administration of justice,’ Bhushan told the court.

He told the court that ‘whole object of suspending Chandramohan was to debar him from contesting election. He remains suspended till the Bar Council decides his case.’

In the instant case allegedly acting on behalf of Raja, Chandramohan tried to influence the then judge of Madras High Court Justice R. Raghupathy for securing anticipatory bail to his clients Dr Krishnamurthy and his son, who were wanted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for forging mark-sheets in MBBS examinations.

Chandramohan allegedly told Justice Raghupathy that the accused were ‘family friends’ of Raja. Chandramohan even made an attempt to make Justice Raghupathy to speak to Raja in which he did not succeed. The matter relates to year 2009.

It was in this matter that the high court suspended the membership of Chandramohan from the Bar Council and consequently he lost the chairmanship of the TNBC.