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BCI bans newbie advocates from SC unless have 5 years of lower court experience (+ 5-yearly practice renewal) [UPDATE-1]

Proposed: A longer road to the apex court
Proposed: A longer road to the apex court

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has come out with new Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules, 2014 that prohibit an advocate from starting to practise in the Supreme Court unless they have practiced for at least two years in a trial court and three years in a high court in India, reported the Economic Times.

Update: The 5-year experience requirement, which is in “Rule 7 of Chapter III shall come into force on such date as the Bar Council of India may, by notification in the Gazette of India, appoint in this behalf”.

The rules provide that from now the certificate of practice needs to be renewed every five years by filing an application with the relevant state bar council six months in advance from the date of the certificate’s expiry.

Update: Within six months of 29 October 2014 (the date of the notification), under Rule 8 all advocates who graduated before 2010 must get a certificate of practice from the BCI, which will cost Rs 500 (Rs 400 to the respective state bar council and Rs 100 to the BCI).

The statement of objects and reasons of the new certificate of practice rules, as reported by ET, states:

There is an urgent need for laying down some conditions for practicing law in different courts so as to give due weightage and credence to experience.

Before an advocate could practice law in higher courts, there is need that he is exposed to real court experience in lower courts/trial courts. This will help in integrating the whole judicial system from the perspective of the bar

The rules also take note of the “alarming proportions” of lawyers leaving the profession for other pursuits, whose names continue to be found on the rolls of State Bar Councils’, sometimes even long after they’ve died.

Currently all categories of advocates are allowed to appear before the Supreme Court but only Supreme Court advocates on record (AOR) are eligible to not only appear but also act and plead for a litigant before this court. An AOR is an advocate who has cleared the Supreme Court AOR exam, to be eligible to attempt which an advocate needs to have practiced in the chambers of a Supreme Court AOR for at least five years.

Non-AORs file their matters in the Supreme Court through AORs, which has allegedly given rise to the practice of name lending.

The Supreme Court Rules 2013 had already banned advocates enrolled for less than one year from appearing before the Supreme Court, except for the limited purpose of asking for time, date, adjournment and similar brief orders. The 2013 rules also brought the practice of name lending under the disciplinary proceedings net.

Thanks to Shivendra Singh in the comments and @mohitsingh8 on Twitter for a full copy of the rules.

Photo by Johnnie Colquhoun

BC’s Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules, 2014

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