Around 1200 Tamil Nadu advocates await enrolment with the state bar council (SBC) which has not issued any enrolment certificates in four months.
The Madras high court (HC) had in a May interim order directed the SBC to issue enrolment certificates only after verifying that applicants had no criminal record.
Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry chairman D Selvam said: “It is not our fault. The problem is, somebody filed a case that the criminal offence background [of the applicants] should be verified [before enrolling them]. Now there is a judicial order, an interim order, [mandating] police verification.”
A June 2013 graduate, whose enrolment application is pending with the SBC since June, told Legally India that three different departments – law and order, intelligence and crime – separately verified the criminal records of each applicant now. The national law university (NLU) graduate from outside Tamil Nadu said that his batch mates in another state had already received their enrolment certificates.
SBC general secretary V Dakshanamoorthy said that results of verification for candidates enrolling from Chennai had not yet been received, while results from other areas had come through. This was the reason why issuance of enrolment certificates was still pending, he said, without commenting on an expected date for completion of the process.
An advocate practicing before the Madurai bench of the Madras HC, V Ramesh, in WP 10315/2013 had petitioned the HC to order the SBC to examine the authenticity of the practice certificates of existing advocates, the law colleges they graduated from, the attendance registers of such colleges, their school certificates, college degrees, their criminal antecedents and other data that could show up an advocate as “fake”.
He contended in his writ petition:
“The Noble Legal profession is being polluted on account of individuals being enrolled as advocates even without under going, school and college education. The outcome of this degradation is that anti social elements, [third] rated politicians and persons involved in questionable illegal activities have entered the Legal profession, Courts of law and Advocate Associations throughout of the State of Tamil Nadu. These unscrupulous elements are involving themselves in kangaroo courts, illegal real estate dealings, police criminal nexus and other degrading activities through the LLB degrees procured from other States namely Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.”
“Instead of studying law degree on a regular basis LLB degrees are being sold and bought for a meager price in Universities functioning in other States. The law degree is obtained without attending regular college and also examinations are not written by the applicants but by the agents of the brokers, who engage themselves in seat-laundering for the candidates in Tamil Nadu.”
“LLB seats are obtained by producing bogus certificates procured by brokers and based upon the same degrees are obtained and subsequently, these candidates are enrolled as advocates in Tamil Nadu and subsequently become members of Bar Associations etc. Further employees of Government, Public Sector undertakings, Private Sector become lawyers by applying for LLB in other States, which is totally illegal because while being employed, nobody can undergo legal education and obtain a profession degree in law, as if done in cases of distant education.”
The petitioner swore that he possessed a recorded conversation between a LLB degree broker and a person bargaining for the seat, with “all the delicate particulars of the illegal education ring”.
Reserving judgment in the case justice N Kirubakaran, as reported by The Hindu observed: “In view of the fact that there are more than 100 law colleges in Karnataka and about 100 law colleges in Andhra Pradesh, the Bar Councils and the Chief Secretaries of the two States have to explain what is the necessity for so many law colleges.”
In his interim order, he directed the SBC to conduct criminal verification and refused to stay the enrolment of fresh graduates, but said that their enrolment would be subject to the outcome of the case.
Photo by Balu Velachery