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Super-late bar council elections may now finally happen: Maha bar council deletes 65k “fake” lawyers as Feb deadline for election voter list approaches

Will they finally get on with bar council elections? Hold your breath...
Will they finally get on with bar council elections? Hold your breath...

The Maharashtra & Goa bar council has rejected 65,000 persons who had been advocates enrolled on its state rolls, with 17 days to go before closing its voter list in the run-up to long-overdue state bar council (SBC) elections.

The SBCs will submit their respective electoral rolls to the Bar Council of India (BCI) by 2 Feb 2018, after which the BCI would declare the program and timelines for each SBC’s elections, said Maharashtra SBC chairman Satish Deshmukh, adding that these elections are to be concluded before 31 March,

Deshmukh told us that 1.76 lakh “advocates” had submitted their documents to the SBC for verification as part of the BCI's verification drive to weed out “fake advocates”.

He said that of those 1,76,000 persons 1,11,000 passed verification and of those 1,11,000 verified advocates 22,000 also stand “verified and declared”. The BCI had asked advocates enrolled with SBCs after July 2010 to file a declaration form stating whether they had cleared the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) or not.

According to Supreme Court justices RK Agrawal and AM Sapre's order on 14 December 2017, as reported by Live Law, the SBCs were to finalise their electoral rolls by 15 January 2018 and elections were to commence from 15 February 2018 to be completed within six weeks. The SBCs which had already published their electoral rolls were to commence elections from 1 January 2018.

Elections are overdue for over three years in a majority of SBCs now, as we had reported in 2016.

Many SBCs, such as the Maharashtra bar council, have effectively been dissolved and have been operating with skeleton memberships or headed by local advocates general. Each state bar council's members who are nominated to the BCI, however, have remained as BCI members despite their terms (including chairman Manan Kumar Mishra's) having long lapsed.

With the elections schedule yet to be announced, campaigning has already begun on social media with one Bar Council of Delhi advocate pushing others to vote for contestants promising exemption from bar association (DHCBA) subscription fees to lawyers under five years or over 40 years of practice experience, and to lawyers aged above 65 years.

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