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SCBA condemns BCI, vows to ‘provide strong leadership’ to profession over reform after ‘pernicious... u-turning... BCI let us down’

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has passed a resolution slamming the Bar Council of India (BCI) and that it opposed the Law Commission’s reforms of the profession and that it’s members should wear white arm bands in solidarity with striking lawyers tomorrow.

SCBA secretary Gaurav Bhatia commented: “SCBA will provide strong and credible leadership to the entire country. BCI let us down.”

While the SCBA said that it would take “all necessary mesasures”, including involving state bar associations, so that the Law Commission’s amendment to the Advocates Act was not introduced in parliament in its present form, it disagreed with the BCI’s handling of the regulations, noting:

A. The Bar Council of India in utter disregard of their obligations and duties regretfully submitted the report to the Law Commission of India without taking any inputs from the SCBA or any other State Bar Associations.

This conduct of BCI has severely affected the legal profession and has created a serious dent to the confidence that lawyers reposed in the BCI as a Statutory Body.

Even more disappointing is the fact that the BCI has now taken a complete U turn after making very pernicious recommendations to the Law Commission of India earlier, and has decided to oppose now by way of calling for a strike, the very same recommendations that it made.

This has further eroded the credibility of the BCI.

The SCBA highlighted in its resolution the following problems with the Commission’s proposal:

(a) Imposition of fine on lawyers which may extend to Rs.3 lakhs. (b) Award of compensation to be paid by lawyers to the litigants upto Rs.5 lakhs.

(c) The SCBA also vehemently opposes induction of non- lawyers into various disciplinary committees, which will be empowered to take action against lawyers in case of alleged misconducts.

(d) Complete ban on lawyers to strike/boycott or abstain from court work or right to protest.

Full SCBA resolution

The resolution of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association passed in its Emergent Meeting held on 30.03.2017

The emergent meeting of the Executive Committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association was convened today i.e. 30.03.2017 in relation to the letter dated 27.03.2017 written by the Bar Council of India to the SCBA wherein the Bar Council of India informed the SCBA that it has resolved to give a call to the advocates of the country to abstain from Court’s work on 31.03.2017 to protest against the draconian Advocates Amendment Bill-2017.

After perusing the proposed Bill to amend the Advocates’ Act 1961 as well as the resolution of the General Body of the BCI, the Executive Committee strongly feels that the said proposed amendments will jeopardize the autonomy, independence and effectiveness of the entire legal fraternity of the country and also the independence of the judiciary.

The Executive Committee strongly feels that any move to table the Bill or to give effect to the passage of the bill or to amend the Advocates Act will weaken the legal profession and therefore, the Executive Committee strongly opposes the said proposed Bill.

The Executive Committee resolves that all necessary measures will be taken by the SCBA involving the State Bar Associations across the country, also various district Bar Associations and the entire legal fraternity so that this bill in its current form is not introduced in the Parliament.

After examining the proposed amendments at great length the Executive Committee feels that there are serious issues besides others such as:-

(a) Imposition of fine on lawyers which may extend to Rs.3 lakhs.

(b) Award of compensation to be paid by lawyers to the litigants upto Rs.5 lakhs.

(c) The SCBA also vehemently opposes induction of non- lawyers into various disciplinary committees, which will be empowered to take action against lawyers in case of alleged misconducts.

(d) Complete ban on lawyers to strike/boycott or abstain from court work or right to protest.

For the reasons mentioned above, the Bill proposed by the Law Commission of India will seriously affect the functioning and independence of the legal fraternity, thus the Executive Committee of SCBA resolves as under :-

A. The Bar Council of India in utter disregard of their obligations and duties regretfully submitted the report to the Law Commission of India without taking any inputs from the SCBA or any other State Bar Associations.

This conduct of BCI has severely affected the legal profession and has created a serious dent to the confidence that lawyers reposed in the BCI as a Statutory Body.

Even more disappointing is the fact that the BCI has now taken a complete U turn after making very pernicious recommendations to the Law Commission of India earlier, and has decided to oppose now by way of calling for a strike, the very same recommendations that it made.

This has further eroded the credibility of the BCI.

B. The SCBA being the Apex Bar of the Country feels that it is its duty to provide leadership to the entire legal fraternity in this hour of crisis. Therefore, the Executive Committee resolves and calls upon all its members to wear a white arm band as a mark of protest against the proposed amendments on 31.03.2017 and also as a mark of solidarity with the entire legal fraternity and protesting lawyers of the country.

C. The Executive Committee further resolves that it will be seeking an appointment to meet and to apprise

· His Excellency the President of India,

· Hon’ble the Prime Minister of India,

· Hon’ble the Law Minister and

· other important Cabinet Ministers

them about the concerns of the legal fraternity.

D. The Executive Committee resolves that SCBA will take lead as the Apex Bar of the country in organizing a series of Seminars/Meetings and countrywide protests which will include all eminent leaders of the SCBA, State Bar Associations, State Bar Councils and leaders from all across the country.

E. The Executive Committee resolves that keeping in mind the sensitivity, seriousness and urgency of the issue, the Executive Committee will at the earliest convene a Special General Body Meeting of the SCBA.

F. The Executive Committee further resolves that it will actively participate in the proceedings in the case titled as Mahipal Singh Rana Vs. State of U.P. to assist the Hon’ble Supreme Court in framing appropriate guidelines to regulate legal profession.

Gaurav Bhatia R. S. Suri(Sr.)

Hony.Secretary President

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