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CCI regulations on conduct of lawyers during hearings stayed by Madras HC

PTI chennai India
Updated: 04-01-2019 22:13 IST

The Madras High Court Friday stayed the rules notified by the Competition Commission of India barring advocates from interacting with persons summoned by it during hearings and providing for debarring of counsels from future appearances. A bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and R Pongiappan passed the interim order on a petition by the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association challenging the validity of the rules notified on December 6 last.

According to the rules, an advocate can accompany any person summoned by the Commission director-general provided they submit a written request accompanied by a 'vakalatnama' or power of attorney. However, they should not sit in front of the person being questioned. Senior counsel S Prabakaran, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the rules were unconstitutional and arbitrary and the Competition Commission of India (CCI) had no powers to bring such amendments as it was not chaired by a judicial member.

It was an attempt to usurp the functions of the Bar Council of India which is the only authority to take disciplinary action against advocates, he claimed. The condition that the accompanying advocate shall not be at a hearing distance and not interact, consult or communicate with the person during the examination was against all norms or decency, Prabhakaran said. The Commission had abused its authority and trust by treating advocates like slaves, he submitted.

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