The Madras High Court today directed its registrar general not to implement a December 29 circular making mandatory affixing of identity card of advocates on record for filing memos of appearance. A division bench comprising justices Huluvadi G Ramesh and RMT Teekaa Raman gave the direction on a petition challenging the circular. Among other things, the circular stipulated that the vakalats (memos) need to be filed along with the identity card of the advocate on record. The attesting advocates too need to file proof of identity, in addition to residential addresses. It is optional for them to furnish the office addresses, it added. The executive circular followed an interim judicial order pronounced by Justice S Vaidyanathan while entertaining a criminal original petition on December 22. The circular was challenged by the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA), by its chief G Mohanakrishnan, Madras Bar Association, by its president Vijay Narayan, also the Advocate-General and another senior advocate. They contended that the circular was without jurisdiction and contrary to the law. It was illegal and would cause grave hardship and prejudice to the legal practitioners and the litigant public.
The circular, which was based on the December 22 judicial order, encroached upon the legislative powers of constitutional bodies and is a nullity. It is tainted with grave errors of jurisdiction, they said. The single judge, sitting on the judicial side and exercising the statutory powers under the CrPC had no power or jurisdiction to issue such directions, the petitioners contended. In any case, the same can only be treated as guidelines which are directory and not mandatory in nature, they said. The measures sought to be introduced and implemented to prevent frauds and malpractices ought not to affect the constitutional and statutory rights of the citizens, particularly those arrested and detained or facing imminent threat of arrest, including the rights under Articles 21, 22 and 14 of the Constitution, they contended. Their interim prayer is to stay the operation of the circular.