Chennai, Sep 16 (PTI) The Madras High Court on Thursday deplored the trend of 'cowshed' law colleges mushrooming in the country, damaging the image of the lawyers.

It is a big issue which needs to be addressed to preserve the credibility of lawyers, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu orally observed.

The bench made the observation when a PIL petition praying for a direction to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to nominate retired/sitting judges as members of the disciplinary committees of the council came up. The petitioner found fault with the present practice of nominating the other lawyers as the 'judges' of the committees.

Originally, the petitioner had moved the State Bar council to take action against his advocate, who allegedly colluded with the opposite party. But the council dismissed his complaint. Hence the present PIL.

During the course of arguments, the Bar Council counsel informed the judges that on verification, it was found that out of the one lakh lawyers in the state, only 67,000 were found to be entitled to practice.

Stressing on the importance of advocates in the society, the CJ said "the judges do not come flying from Venus or Neptune." "We come from a pool of lawyers. We are lawyers first and judges next," the CJ said and adjourned the case by four weeks with a direction to the central government and the Bar Council to file status reports on the issue.