Lawyer couple suspended for abusing car driver of HC judge

CHENNAI: They may as well have genuflected and ad-libbed the oath: “I do swear in the name of God, never to swear in public, especially not at your driver, your honour.”

But even that may not have spared a couple, both lawyers, the opprobrium of their peers for launching into a profanity-filled road rage rant against, of all the motorists on Chennai‘s roads, a judge‘s driver – with the honourable justice looking on in dismay.

The Bar council suspended the couple, both lawyers, from practising in any court or tribunal for blocking the judge‘s car after it overtook their own vehicle, the ugly harangue that followed, and for then having the temerity to pick a quarrel with the judge‘s driver a few days later.

Denouncing their actions as professional misconduct that damaged the confidence of people in judges and the judiciary as a whole, a three-member committee of the Bar Council of and Puducherry suspended the couple for 15 days and directed them to submit a written explanation.

According to the suspension order, the row took place when advocate L Shika Sarmadan was at the wheel of their car, her husband S Sahul Hamed by her side, driving along the beach road at 9.40am on July 30.

Peeved that the judge‘s car (TN03 BG5000), heading to the court, had overtaken their vehicle, the woman advocate “forcibly overtook the judge‘s car by continuously blowing the horn, creating fear [among] the common people and the judge”, the order read.

“You cut in front, stopped the judge‘s car road and started scolding the driver of the judge‘s car in filthy language, knowing fully well that a high court judge was proceeding to Madras high court for official duty,” it read.

On August 3, the couple went to the judge‘s residence and berated the driver again, questioning the authority of the judge in front of the judge himself, as he prepared to take the judge to the court.

A Bar council committee of advocate general Vijay Narayan and lawyers R Singaravelan and N Chandrasekharan suspended the pair on a complaint lodged by the judge‘s personal security officer. The committee averred that the couple had questioned the authority of the judge and damaged the dignity and constitutional sanctity of the post of a high court judge.

“You have brought total disrespect not only to the judges of the high court but to the entire [community of lawyers] and made the judiciary and legal profession the subject of mockery,” the committee said. “Prima facie, this also amounts to professional misconduct.”

If the committee does not receive a suitable explanation within 15 days, it will refer the case to the Bar council‘s disciplinary committee for an inquiry.

Shika enrolled with the Bar council in 1999, and Hamed in 2001.

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