The Madras High Court has overturned a single-judge’s order that required the Madras Bar Association (MBA) to pay ₹5 lakh in compensation for refusing to allow a lawyer to drink water at the Association’s office premises.
The High Court’s ruling comes after the MBA filed an appeal against the single-judge’s order. The appeal argued that the single-judge should have referred the matter to a Division Bench, as required by the High Court Rules.
The Division Bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and K Rajasekar agreed with the MBA’s argument and set aside the single-judge’s order. The Division Bench also noted that the single-judge had erred in holding the MBA vicariously liable for the conduct of its individual members.
The Madras High Court’s ruling is a significant victory for the MBA and its members. It also serves as a reminder that professional associations have the right to set their own membership criteria and rules.