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Exclusive: PH Parekh foils SCBA one-bar-one-vote coup, says is still president

Scenes from Tuesday's dramatic GBM (Photo: @DKMahant)
Scenes from Tuesday's dramatic GBM (Photo: @DKMahant)
Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president PH Parekh said today that he would continue in office because yesterday’s executive committee meeting, which accepted his verbal resignation and expelled three other members after Tuesday’s chaotic general meeting, was invalid because it was not quorate.

Parekh said that he would “work with the implementation committee” formed by the Supreme Court in SCBA vs B.D. Kaushik and would ensure that the ‘one bar one vote’ regulation in the judgment was properly implemented.

Legally India reported exclusively on Tuesday that Parekh had verbally resigned from the post of SCBA president in a tumultuous general body meeting (GBM) convened that day on the Supreme Court (SC) lawns, in which Parekh faced off against senior advocate and previous SCBA president Ram Jethmalani.

Parekh’s resignation was accepted by an executive committee meeting (ECM) held in the SCBA conference room yesterday.

But Parekh said that the ECM was not presided over by himself, who was still technically the president of the SCBA, nor the vice-president, who refused to attend. Furthermore, only nine EC members were present at yesterday’s ECM, and the resolution passed therein was recalled.

“It was a wrongly convened meeting,” he said.

The ‘wrong’ EGM

Yesterday’s ECM minutes had stated:

“Mr. Parekh resignation has been accepted and now he cannot function as president SCBA and any correspondence made by Mr. Parekh as President, SCBA will not be taken into account.

“The members of the Executive Committee cannot override the General Body Resolution by simply making signature after 16.1.2012 when his resignation has already been accepted.

“But he himself now says that he wants to withdraw the same, he cannot withdraw. The news that Mr. Parekh has resigned has been displayed on electronic media i.e. legallyindia.com”

Parekh commented: “I did mention about resignation but thereafter a large number of SCBA members, general body as well as executive committee, requested me to continue in office.”

The ‘right’ EGM

He said that an ECM was again been convened today: “18 people attended today and yesterday’s decision was unanimously recalled.”

The minutes of today’s ECM recorded:

“To consider the convening of purported Executive Committee which was totally unauthorised on Wednesday, 18.1.2012. The President and Vice President had expressly informed Mr. Pramod Swarup (Sr.), Mr. K.C. Kaushik, and Mr. Gaurav Bhatia that they should not convene the meeting, as the meeting is going to be held on Friday, the 20th January 2012.

“This emergent meeting of the Executive Committee has seen the minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday, 18.1.2012 at 4.15 PM, attended by nine EC members. In that meeting certain resolutions were passed and decisions were taken. This Committee unanimously decides to recall the minutes of the meeting held on 18.1.2012 in its entirety.

This committee has taken on record the certificate issued by the Delhi High Court Bar Association dated 19.1.2012 certifying that Mr. Rakesh Khanna (Senior Advocate and Vice President of Supreme Court Bar Association) […] did not cast his vote in the elections of Delhi High Court Bar Association held on 16.12.2011. Therefore, the allegation made against him in the complaint is found by this Committee as false.”

Yesterday’s ECM had been called to ratify the GBM resolution passed on Tuesday, which provided for dissolution of the implementation committee formed in the BD Kaushik case, expulsion of seniors PP Rao, KK Venugopal and Ranjit Rao from permanent membership of SCBA, and taking of action against advocates who allegedly appeared in the BD Kaushik case without filing a vakalatnama.

But this ECM had effectively stayed that GBM resolution, Parekh told Legally India.

Parekh added that the stay would be applicable until tomorrow when the matter was up for decision and “all aggrieved members shall be heard”.

Many bars, many votes

The ‘one bar one vote rule’ arrived at in the December 2011 SC judgment of SCBA vs BD Kaushik was at the heart of the heated exchange that comprised Tuesday’s SCBA GBM.

Many present were reported to have been especially upset with Parekh’s perceived lack of opposition since December to the rule, which mandates a minimum of 50 SC appearances per year before advocates are allowed to take part in SCBA governance, as well as a ‘proximity card’ that would differentiate SC advocates from non-SC ones.

Parekh said that the contentious ‘one bar one vote’ rules laid down by the apex court should be improved but not scrapped. “The judgment is delivered by SC. So the judgment has to be implemented but according to me the judgment should be implemented in a way that covers all the members who come regularly to SC as far as possible.”

There were alternatives to simply using 50 appearances as a test of eligibility, which could be unfair, he accepted. “There is also the condition on whether you are using the proximity card for 90 days in a year. So there are various other methods. There are many lawyers such as juniors or other advocates who haven’t got so many appearances. Various methods should be adopted and should not be confined to few measures to ascertain this.”

Parekh noted that the implementation committee had not yet finished its task. “They have invited suggestions from members which they are going to consider. A personal hearing to the aggrieved shall be given and only after that the list [of SCBA members] shall be formulated.”

“If someone is aggrieved they can also approach the SC about the list,” he added. “I am hopeful that they will do it properly.”

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