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10 BCI members’ terms have expired with no sign of new elections (because ‘fake’ lawyers)

BCI: More than half its members don’t have democratic mandate anymore after terms ran out
BCI: More than half its members don’t have democratic mandate anymore after terms ran out

At least 11 out of around 18 state bar councils and their representatives to the Bar Council of India (BCI) are now continuing in their posts despite their terms having ended, in some cases for nearly two years, including in Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka bar councils (see full list below).

The reason given by the BCI has been that the ‘fake’ lawyer verification drive under the Bar Council of India (BCI) (Certificate of Practice) Rules 2014 is still ongoing, and that new elections would slow down the process even further.

However, verification has already taken far longer than it was supposed to, with the BCI telling the Supreme Court in July that it needed even more time.

The Supreme Court then granted another three months for the verification process to complete, but even so, elections would take place only at least six months after they were called, according to a bar council member.

In some of these states, the advocate general becomes a special chair in charge of verifications, assisted by a skeleton special committee of a few bar council members.

“Clearly the intention is not to have elections in those states, in the name of finding out whether somebody is a lawyer or not,” commented one former bar council member. “This suits the BCI perfectly, they don’t want to have elections and in the name of verification they have postponed.”

Some bar councils without democratic mandate

The Assam bar council’s term should have ended on 1 November 2014, but no elections have yet been held.

A similar nearly two-year delay in holding elections exists in the Delhi bar council, where elections should have been held in December 2014.

The last election to the Bihar state bar council took place in April 2015 for five year terms, for instance and the old members should have had to stand for re-elections in April 2015.

The current BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra was also elected to the Bihar bar council in April 2010, and was appointed as BCI chairman in 2012.

Elections for the Bihar bar council should have been held in April 2015.

The last Maharashtra and Goa bar council elections took place in May 2015, as we reported at the time.

And in July, Southern state bar council members reportedly resolved that existing state bar council terms would continue without elections until either the Supreme Court or the BCI ordered new elections.

However, at least one bar council where an elections is overdue for around half a year, has now apparently announced elections: the Uttar Pradesh bar council which has scheduled its elections to take place in February 2017, according to local news reports (see English translation here).

We have reached out to Manan Kumar Mishra for comment about why elections could not be held during the verification process.

Expired terms

The following state bar councils’ terms have expired and have not yet held new elections:

  • Assam bar council: 1 November 2014
  • Delhi bar council: 17 December 2014
  • Uttarakhand bar council: 22 December 2014
  • Bihar bar council: 17 April 2015
  • Rajasthan bar council: 9 January 2015
  • Maharashtra and Goa bar council: 18 July 2015
  • Uttar Pradesh bar council: Around April 2016
  • Kerala bar council: 16 May 2016
  • Tamil Nadu bar council: 28 May 2016
  • Himachal Pradesh bar council: 8 August 2016
  • Karnataka bar council: 11 September 2016
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