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‘Prudent’ SC tells BCI to finally start bar council re-elections (as 11 are now unelected)

Supreme Court 'prudently' tells BCI to finally get on with it and do the democracy thing...
Supreme Court 'prudently' tells BCI to finally get on with it and do the democracy thing...

The Supreme Court today told the Bar Council of India (BCI) that state bar councils should hold elections, even if the BCI’s verification drive had not yet been completed, ordering the BCI to frame guidelines to conduct elections and relax its certificate or practice rules if required to allow elections, reported Bar & Bench.

We had reported last month that the electoral terms of at least 11 out of 18 state bar councils had expired in some cases for nearly two years (such as Assam and Delhi, with Bihar’s elections being 18 months overdue).

The result is that many of those state bar councils are operating with skeleton members and staff, often headed up by advocate general in the interim, without provision for dealing with disciplinary complaints and other functions.

It also means that at least 11 BCI members, including the BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, were occupying their posts at the BCI without having been validly elected anymore.

Mishra told the Supreme Court, according to Bar & Bench, that: “Inexperienced persons are chairmen of various state bar councils. In Uttar Pradesh, only one designated Senior Advocate is member of the State Bar Council. In Punjab and Haryana, chairman had only four years of practice.”

As we reported last month, the Punjab & Haryana bar council is currently embroiled in a massive turf war between presumptive chairmen and members.

Mishra had also told Legally India in an email on 15 September:

You know the matter regarding Verification Rules is pending in Supreme Court. And in such matter no prudent Indian or Our media will like to make any comment. Obviously you have tried to prejudice the Honb’le Judges. Everybody is now fully aware of your hidden agenda behind such comment.But our Honb’le Judges are prudent enough to understand your motive n agenda behind such move.

But note it down,BCI has brought these Rules to weed out fake Lawyers n to identify the None practicing Advocates who are burden for Institution. If we undertake the election on the basis of old roll n Rules,the fate will be same. Again the Statutory bodies will be the representatives of such fake,cheat n non practicing Lawyers. Rules will become meaningless.Itsbeing done for the first time so,it’s bound to delay d elections for some time.

But we have been taking all efforts to complete it at the earliest. But without verification if we hold elections now,the Bar Councils will be den of unruly,farzi,fake n non practicing representatives.Bcz the gang / racket of the persons practicing wd forged certificates has become very active. They are misusing social media’s to mislead people,spending huge money to defeat d Rules. I think you should not b a part of such people or media.

Madras HC has said no election without verification. The matter is finally to b decided by apex court of India. So,better you should keep mum till the matter is finally decided by the Honb’le SC

Senior advocate Gourab Banerji had today argued for the petitioners in the Supreme Court case, who are challenging the Bar Council of India Certificate of Practice Rules, and said: “Verification of lawyers could take a long time. If each and every certificate has to be verified, then it will take three to four years. Elections should be held in the meantime. Rule 23 should be relaxed.”

Full disclosure: In 2015 the BCI has sent a legal notice to Legally India for our critical reporting on the AIBE (though not taken any further action after our reply), and more recently called Legally India editor Kian Ganz a “[small mosquito]… attempting to spread Dengue”, threatening in an email that BCI “members will take care of you” in response to our report on the lack of state bar council elections and a Rs 48+ lakh trip planned by BCI members to Washington DC, which was cancelled after our report.

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