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SC asks Law Com, Gov to probe BCI regulation of lawyers: 'Urgent need to review Advocates Act'

SC: 'Request Law Commission to go into all relevant aspects relating to regulation of legal profession'
SC: 'Request Law Commission to go into all relevant aspects relating to regulation of legal profession'

A Supreme Court bench of justices Anil R Dave, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel yesterday asked the Law Commission to consider whether the Bar Council of India (BCI) is a suitable regulator of the legal profession within six months.

It held in its judgment in Mahipal Singh Rana vs State of Uttar Pradesh (criminal appeal 63 of 2006) that the government sould take appropriate further steps, the Hindustan Times first reported.

The judgment's closing obiter paragraphs state, as an "epilogue" (emphasis added):

50. While this appeal will stand disposed of in the mannerindicated above, we do feel it necessary to say somethingfurther in continuation of repeated observations earliermade by this Court referred to above. Legal professionbeing the most important component of justice deliverysystem, it must continue to perform its significant role andregulatory mechanism and should not be seen to be wantingin taking prompt action against any malpractice. We havenoticed the inaction of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh aswell as the Bar Council of India inspite of direction in theimpugned order of the high court and inspite of notice tothe Bar Council of India by this Court. We have alsonoticed the failure of all concerned to advert to theobservations made by the Gujarat High Court 33 years ago.Thus there appears to be urgent need to review theprovisions of the Advocates Act dealing with regulatory mechanism for the legal profession and other incidentalissues, in consultation with all concerned.

51. In a recent judgment of this Court in Modern DentalCollege and Research Centre versus State of MP inCivil Appeal No.4060 of 2009 dated 2 nd May, 2016, whiledirecting review of regulatory mechanism for the medicalprofession, this court observed that there is need to reviewof the regulatory mechanism of the other professions aswell. The relevant observations are:

“There is perhaps urgent need to review the regulatorymechanism for other service oriented professions also.We do hope this issue will receive attention ofconcerned authorities, including the Law Commission,in due course.”

52. In view of above, we request the Law Commission ofIndia to go into all relevant aspects relating to regulation oflegal profession in consultation with all concerned at anearly date. We hope the Government of India will considertaking further appropriate steps in the light of report of theLaw Commission within six months thereafter. The CentralGovernment may file an appropriate affidavit in this regardwithin one month after expiry of one year.

The court has scheduled another hearing in 13 months, to consider any developments in the matter or further directions.

Read full judgment here.

In the case, according to the Hindustan Times, the Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad high court order against advocate Mahipal Singh Rana for having intimidated and threatened a senior civil judge in Uttar Pradesh in 2003, for which he was disbarred for two years.

The high court had ordered the Uttar Pradesh bar council to initiate appropriate" professional misconduct actions, but the bar council did not do anything for 10 yeras.

On Rana's appeal against the high court order, the Supreme Court has now extended his disbarment for another five years and indefinitely in the district where the contempt of court took place, since Rana refused to apologise and had no remorse, but set aside a two-month jail term by the high court due to Rana's advanced age.

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