It appears that COVID-19 lockdown period has revived the despicable practice of advocates indulging in illegal activities of grabbing properties, the Madras High Court has said after coming across three such incidents in the last one month. It has called for a report from the city police regarding lawyers who attempted to grab a house at George Town.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh wrote: “This practice was prevalent in the past and due to stringent action taken by this court, by suspending some of the advocates, the situation was brought under control. It looks like the lockdown has again revived this despicable practice… It is high time that this court again comes down heavily and stops such activities before they go out of control.”
He went on to state: “When it comes to conduct of advocates, there will be zero tolerance shown by this court. It has to be ensured that the activities of some advocates do not spoil the image of the entire profession.” He directed the police to list the advocates involved in the George Town incident by March 2 so that a complaint could be made to the Bar Council.
The orders were passed after directing the police to provide protection for the property. Its owner had complained that some unruly elements, along with a group of advocates, had attempted to break open the locks and were continuing to create law and order problem.
The judge pointed out that the landlord had rented out the property in 2012. The house spread over 2,163 square feet on Coral Merchant Street at Muthialpet was rented out for ₹20,000 per month. In 2019, the landlord called upon the tenant to vacate the premises because of default in payment of rent and failure to renew the agreement. The tenant sought three months to vacate but ended up filing an anti-eviction suit before a city civil court.
Subsequently, the tenant obtained an ex-parte decree in his favour by submitting a forged sale deed before the trial court. An address of a liquor shop was given as the address of the landlord in the suit and the court was made to believe, with the connivance of the bailiff, as if the summons were served on the landlord and yet he did not enter appearance to contest the suit.
When all these instances were brought to the notice of Justice P.T. Asha on October 1, 2020, she found prima facie material for the charge of perjury and directed the Registrar General of the High Court to lodge a police complaint. Despite all this, the illegal activities continued forcing the landlord to move the present writ petition seeking police protection for his property.