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Sondhi, Tiku challenge Bar Council election in court

Luthra Luthra - Vijay Sondhi
Luthra Luthra - Vijay Sondhi

Delhi Bar Council members Vijay Sondhi and Rakesh Tiku have filed a writ petition to order the Bar Council of India (BCI) to settle a dispute challenging the election of R S Rana as member delegate to the BCI.

Delhi High Court division bench of Justices Sanjay Kishen Kaul and Veena Birbal admitted the petition and directed the statutory body to decide the issue within four weeks on 10 March.

Luthra & Luthra partner Sondhi said: "We are happy and hope for a positive decision by the BCI. It was a speedy disposal and all the parties have agreed to get the dispute resolved in accordance with the Bar Council rules."

The petition filed on 5 March had sought to quash the election of member delegate to the BCI due to alleged irregularities in the process and manner of holding elections by the Secretary of the Delhi Bar Council.

Besides alleging violation of principles of natural justice and fair play, the petitioners also said that the contentious election was held in contravention of Rule 8(1) of Chapter 1 Part II of the Bar Council of India Rules, 1975.

The order accepting the petition stated: "The petitioners are members of the Bar Council of Delhi and are aggrieved by the election process for purposes of nominating a representative to the Bar Council of India.

It argued that the process of inviting and seconding nominations for the post within a proper notice period before the date fixed for election was not followed.  

"7. Every notice by the Secretary of the State Council fixing a date for the election of a member to the council under these rules shall be sent not less than 15 clear days before the date fixed for the election. A copy of the said notice shall be sent simultaneously to the Secretary of the Council.  

8. (1) The name of each candidate for the election shall be proposed by one member and seconded by another member of the State Council at the meeting. No member shall propose or second more than one name."

"The submission, thus, is that there cannot be a predetermined date shutting out a candidate to stand for election and every member has a right to stand for election right till the time of meeting which was sought to be done by [Sondhi]."

Inter alia, Sondhi and Tiku want the expression "at the meeting" in Rule 8(1) to be determined.

Bar Council member and fourth respondent Puneet Mittal said: "Rule 8 that contains a procedure to be followed in a meeting before the election was undoubtedly violated, which is the reason why the court has entertained the petition."

This is one of the five objections that Sondhi believed merited courts intervention.

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