This week’s “Right, Left and Centre” column features interview with Advocate M. KARTHIKEYAN – one of the contestants in the election to Bar Council of Tamil Nadu & Puducherry.

Let’s ask the contestant about the election and much more!

1. After Madras High Court’s scathing observations about contestants bribing advocates for votes with money, liquor and tour to Pattaya, how do you find yourself in the race?

The voters here are the learned advocates. They are educated, analytical and socially responsible people. All through our campaign for the past one month, we noticed that most of the Advocates are well aware of their responsibility in electing a good candidate.

2. What do you think is the most positive thing about you that can drive you to success in the election?

I am a new contestant. And my approach and attitude as an advocate are well known to certain section of the legal fraternity that will help me.

3. What are the five most importance or rather urgent issue you would like to fight the election based on?

a) Improving the image of the legal profession among the public.

b) Placing the Bar Council as the governing body of the legal profession and not a place of trading.

c) Cutting down the mushrooming criminalization of the legal profession.

d) Helping the junior advocates with less than 2 years of practice (their learning period) as an advocate till they get financially stabilized.

e) To protect the right of the advocates on their retirement from the profession for the reason of age, health etc.,

4. How do you plan to address these issues if voted to power?

I will voice out for these issues officially to obtain the support of majority of the members of the Bar Council, if voted to power.

5. It is believed that winning the election is difficult without money or muscle power. How are you placed at this context?

I do not believe the phrase that winning the election is difficult without money and muscle power. I am not at all placed anywhere at that context. I am happy to inform you that I am not approached by any of the advocates for money or some other form of gratification.

6. Can you tell us about a few important things that you have contributed towards the march of law or society or both?

I have been practicing as an Advocate for 15 years in the High Court and the Moffusil courts in and around Chennai. I am also running a Non-Governmental Organization in the name of “Leaf Society” creating awareness on Right to Information Act among the Tribal people in Kolli Hills. Further as a Childline Organization, I stood for child protection.

7. It is quite apparent now that the opinion about advocates has deteriorated among the general public. What do you think are the immediate steps that the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu & Puducherry and BCI should take to step up the reputation of the profession?

The Bar Council should be so vigilant before permitting a person for enrollment as advocate and further supervise the list of advocates on role. This is the first and foremost issue I want to deal with immediately if I was voted to power.

8. What steps do you think the Bar Council has to take to revamp the legal education in the State?

The Bar Council Act ensues a legal education committee which can take step for revamping the medical education

a) By periodical supervisions and scrutinizing of the facilities in the educational establishment of the state.

b) By submitting recommendations to the appropriate department of the State to improve the amenities of the law colleges.

c) By taking steps to encourage the student’s contribution toward the development of law.

9. Mushrooming of letter pad law colleges within and outside Tamil Nadu is believed to be one of the factors contributing to deteriorating Court practice and the increasing number of brief-less lawyers. Do you think the Bar Councils should do anything about it?

According to me, as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, there are no colleges identified as unrecognized. But due care should be taken in future before recognizing a law college. Proper and periodical supervisions should be undertaken in the existing private law colleges.

 The issue of brief-less lawyers even persists among the lawyers who come out from rich and traditional law colleges. Individual lawyers should get equipped themselves with the updates and development of law. Bar Council can take steps to conduct seminar and conference on the subjects and its updates to the advocates on roll, every district wise.

10. In what way do you think the Bar Council of TN & PY should contribute to improve the infrastructure of the Courts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry? What specific aspects of infrastructure should such contribution be directed to?

Based on the requirement of the Bar associations, the Bar Council can recommend to improve the basic amenities of the courts for the litigants and advocates providing for water supply, toilets, bar rooms for the lady advocates, etc.,

11. What is the first step that you have planned to take up if elected as a member of the Bar Council?

To identify the issue which needs immediate attention, initiate debates on the same among the members, and obtain consensus from the members to sort out the same.

12. In a council of 25 members, do you think it is possible to build consensus or prevail over others to bring in the positive changes that you envisage now?

Absolutely. The spirit of truthfulness will act as a tool for success.

13. Madras High Court has prohibited soliciting votes by distributing pamphlets and raising banners. What will your strategy now be for your campaign?

My strategy has never been raising of banners and posters. Voting is within the legal fraternity and advertisement is not at all needed. Communicating with the individuals is more than enough for the campaign.

14. In your personal opinion, what are the factors that voters should consider before casting their voters in favour of someone?

The voters should choose a candidate who is a real democrat and appreciates the spirit of democracy. The person elected should be able and transparent and fight for the rights of other members of the bar.

15. Do you think these factors will help you have an edge over others?