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BCI promises RTI’d copies of meeting minutes in 3 weeks, despite ‘Kiang misbehaving’ during inspection

A kiang (Equus kiang) is the largest of the wild asses. It is native to the Tibetan Plateau (via Wikipedia)
A kiang (Equus kiang) is the largest of the wild asses. It is native to the Tibetan Plateau (via Wikipedia)
The Bar Council of India (BCI) has allowed Legally India’s Right to Information (RTI) appeal against the regulator, having in December backtracked on its earlier position to provide information to Legally India.

The regulator has defended its initial refusal by alleging that Legally India’s editor Kian Ganz had “misbehaved” with BCI officials, and therefore could not permit another inspection of the documents.

However, for the “ends of justice”, it has agreed to “identify” the required documents on its own and to send photocopies to Legally India within three weeks, after communicating the costs.

Legally India reporter Prachi Shrivastava had applied to the regulator under the RTI Act last year, seeking meeting minutes of various BCI committees, as well as information related to the All India Bar Examination (AIBE).

After fixing a date for inspection of the documents sought at the BCI’s office two months later, the BCI withdrew permission to inspect those documents on the day.

[Editor’s note: For the record and to the best of our knowledge, we behaved politely and patiently with BCI staff at all times on 12 December; the conversation with BCI chairman Mishra was recorded and published on Legally India, with his permission.]

Appellate order

BCI joint secretary and first appellate authority under the RTI Act Ashok Kumar Pandey has in his order stated:

“[…] CPIO had given the opportunity to the appellant to inspect the documents on 12th December, 2014 at Bar Council of India premises as information sought were very voluminous and were related to various departments of the Bar Council of India. Accordingly, appellant alongwith her one companion namely Mr. Kiang [sic] (a foreign national) reached the Bar Council of India premises on 12th December 2014 and certain records of the Council were placed before them for identifying which documents actually they required for copying.

However, as per the complaint received from the office of the Bar Council of India, companion of the Appellant started misbehaving with the Bar Council of India officials; thereafter they were stopped by office from further inspection of the documents, consequently they did not inspect the entire documents.

Therefore, considering the conduct of the Appellant and her companion, it is not possible to permit them again to inspect the entire documents and records of the Councils; however, for the end of justice, photocopy of the required documents need to be provided.

Considering the large volume and diversified information’s it has been informed by the CPIO that it will take atleast 3 weeks time to identify and provide the copy of the documents.”


On visiting the BCI’s office on 12 December, Shrivastava and Ganz had tried to take scans of the documents which were made available, with a mobile phone.

A BCI official had intervened during this and referred Legally India to BCI secretary Jogi Ram Sharma, who said that the chairman of the BCI, Manan Kumar Mishra, had explicitly forbidden Legally India from taking copies of all documents. However, Sharma said that Legally India could make photocopies of any documents selected. Legally India said that it wished to select all the supplied documents, but this request was denied.

On taking up the matter directly with BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, also present on the premises that day, Mishra told Legally India that he had “apprehension because of your past” and Legally India’s “nuisance and unncessary criticism of BCI”, that Legally India had “oblique” motives in seeking the documents, and was seeking to “malign the image of the counsel”.

After further questioning, he said that Legally India had “done some mischief” in the past and would do so again with such documents, by selectively quoting parts of the minutes.

Legally India appealed against this decision of the BCI on 19 December, and received the BCI’s reply to the appeal after 20 January.

At least three other lawyers have also sent identical RTI requests to the BCI.

Photo of kiang via Wikipedia

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