Madras High Court Upholds Legal Precedents in Suo-Motu Contempt Petition Ruling

Case Title: Suo-Motu Cont.P.No.1592 of 2015

Case Number: Cont.P.No.1592 of 2015

Dated on: 16.04.2024

Qoram: The Honourable Mr. Justice M.S. Ramesh and The Honourable Mr. Justice Sunder Mohan


The case involves a Suo-Motu Contempt Petition brought before the court. The Madurai Bar Association passed a resolution condemning a judicial order mandating the wearing of helmets by two-wheeler riders. Subsequently, there was a procession by advocates from the Madurai District Court Campus to the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on September 10, 2015. During the procession, leaflets were distributed condemning and making allegations against the judges. P. Dharmaraj, the first contemnor, and A.K. Ramasamy, the second contemnor, was involved in the events. Both contemnors denied direct involvement in the contemptuous acts but filed affidavits of apology, expressing regret and offering apologies for any unintentional actions. The court expressed dissatisfaction with the coercive action taken by the lawyers against a judicial order. Previous decisions by coordinating benches disapproved of the actions of the contemnors and the Bar Association. Despite involvement in the actions, the court decided not to isolate the contemnors for further action but did not condone their involvement in contemptuous acts. Both contemnors, aged over 70, expressed respect for the judiciary in their affidavits. Other lawyers were also involved in the agitation, leading the court to accept the unconditional apologies of the contemnors and close the contempt petition.


  1. Whether the actions of the Madurai Bar Association, particularly the procession, distribution of leaflets, and making allegations against judges, constitute contempt of court.
  2. Whether P. Dharmaraj and A.K. Ramasamy, as members of the Madurai Bar Association, were directly involved in the contemptuous acts.
  3. Whether the apologies tendered by P. Dharmaraj and A.K. Ramasamy are genuine and sufficient to absolve them of contempt charges or if further action is warranted by the court.


  1. Contempt of Courts Act, 1971: This Act outlines what constitutes contempt of court and provides the legal framework for initiating contempt proceedings against individuals or entities that interfere with the administration of justice.
  2. Constitution of India, Article 129: This article grants the Supreme Court the power to punish for contempt of itself.
  3. Constitution of India, Article 215: This article grants High Courts the power to punish for contempt of themselves


The contentions of the court, which can be seen as similar to the role of the appellant. Expressing dissatisfaction and disappointment with the conduct of the lawyers involved. The court expresses its dissatisfaction and disappointment with the coercive actions taken by the lawyers, particularly members of the Madurai Bar Association, in response to a judicial order mandating the wearing of helmets by two-wheeler riders. The court criticises the lawyers’ resort to coercive action instead of pursuing lawful remedies against the order they found objectionable. The court emphasises the need for lawyers to adhere to established legal precedents and ethical standards. It refers to previous judgments by higher courts condemning similar acts of coercive behaviour by lawyers and underscores the duty of lawyers to maintain the integrity of the legal profession and the judicial system. The court underscores the importance of lawyers respecting the judiciary and refraining from taking the law into their own hands. It condemns the lawyers’ participation in coercive actions such as strikes, boycotts, and unruly conduct, stating that such actions undermine the administration of justice and threaten the rule of law. The court calls for self-regulation and restraint among lawyers, urging them to uphold the dignity and independence of the judiciary.


The contentions of the lawyers identified as the respondents in the contempt petition, deny direct involvement in the acts deemed contemptuous by the court. They assert that they were not personally responsible for the actions that led to the contempt proceedings being initiated against them. Despite denying direct involvement, the respondents offer unconditional apologies for any unintentional actions that may have contributed to the contempt proceedings. They express regret if their actions, even if unintentional, were perceived as contemptuous by the court. The respondents argue that they were acting in their capacities as office bearers of the Bar Association. They claim that their actions were aligned with the majority view of the association’s members, suggesting that their actions were reflective of the collective decision-making process within the association. Overall, the respondents’ contentions revolve around denial of direct involvement, expression of regret through unconditional apologies, and justification of their actions based on their roles within the Bar Association.


The court expresses dissatisfaction and disappointment with the conduct of the lawyers involved in the contempt proceedings. It criticises the lawyers for resorting to coercive actions against a judicial order, highlighting the seriousness of their actions in undermining the authority of the judiciary. The court emphasises the importance of upholding legal precedents and ethical standards within the legal profession. It cites previous judgments condemning similar acts by lawyers and stresses the duty of lawyers to maintain the integrity and dignity of the judiciary.

The court underscores the duty of lawyers to respect the judiciary and refrain from engaging in actions that could undermine its authority. It reiterates that lawyers must abide by the law and refrain from taking the law into their own hands, emphasising the need for adherence to legal processes and remedies. The court acknowledges the unconditional apologies offered by the contemnors, who are senior lawyers, and notes their expressions of respect for the judiciary. Despite their denials of direct involvement, the court takes note of their regret and expressions of remorse.

The court considers the age and background of the contemnors, taking into account their longstanding careers and contributions to society. It notes their involvement in social service activities and their clean conduct over several decades of legal practice. Based on the considerations mentioned above, the court decides to close the suo-motu contempt petition. It accepts the unconditional apologies rendered by the contemnors and finds no further action necessary against them.

In conclusion, the court’s analysis and judgement reflect a balanced consideration of the actions of the contemnors, emphasising the importance of upholding legal principles and respecting the judiciary while also recognizing the remorse expressed by the contemnors and their contributions to society.

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Judgement Reviewed by – Shruti Gattani

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