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BCI finally calls mid-March elections for 15 states • Assam reports no ‘fake lawyers’ found in verification • Guj counts 50k lawyers

Bar council elections soon to be a reality
Bar council elections soon to be a reality

15 state bar councils (SBCs) will go to polls between 15 March and 28 March, starting with Jharkhand and ending with eight other SBCs, according to the election schedule announced yesterday by the Bar Council of India (BCI), as reported by Live Law and by the Times of India.

Meanwhile, the Assam bar council confirmed to us that it had not identified any “fake advocates” on its rolls, where numbers were reduced by around 10,000 to 14,215.

While the BCI has long used the spectre of “fake” lawyers practising illegally in courts as a reason to delay state bar council elections (until the Supreme Court stepped in), the more prosaic reason is simply that the state bar councils had never cleaned up their membership rolls that are likely rife with dead and retired lawyers.

The BCI has announced the following schedule:

SBC Polling dates Verified Voters
1 Jharkhand 15-Mar
2 Uttar Pradesh 15-28 Mar 1.6 lakh
3 Delhi 16,17 Mar 51389
4 Kerala 25-Mar
5 Karnataka 27-Mar 43566
6 Bihar 27-Mar
7 Andhra Pradesh 28-Mar
8 Assam 28-Mar 14215
9 Gujarat 28-Mar 50016
10 Himachal Pradesh 28-Mar
11 Maharashtra 28-Mar 1.11 lakh
12 Tamil Nadu 28-Mar
13 Uttarakhand 28-Mar
14 West Bengal 28-Mar
15 Rajasthan 28-Mar

The Assam numbers: No 'fake advocates' found, though rolls trimmed

_Assam bar council secretary Mukul Bhuyan told us today that 14,215 practising advocates across the states of Assam, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur will be casting their vote this election. He said that there are around 25,000 - 30,000 advocates across these 4 states enrolled on the Assam SBC's rolls.

He also said that the Assam SBC had neither found nor deleted any “fake advocates” from its rolls after the lawyer verification drive.

Bhuyan said that there were 13,497 advocates on the SBC's voter list during its last held elections in 2009. In 2009 not four but six states, including Tripura and Mizoram were a part of the Assam SBC he said.

The Gujarat numbers

The Gujarat bar council will see 50,016 practising advocates cast their vote at 139 polling stations across the state to elect 25 SBC members out of at least 100 lawyers contesting for member posts this time, Gujarat SBC chairman BV Bhagat who is contesting from Ahmedabad told us today.

Bhagat said that although there were more than 70,000 advocates enrolled in Gujarat currently, a number which had gone up by 15,000 lawyers in the last 5 years, the SBC had included only those advocates on the electoral roll who had submitted their practising certificates. He said that 250-300 additional advocates may be added to the voter list before the 2 February deadline to submit it to the BCI, as the Gujarat SBC had allowed additional time to certain advocates interested in submitting their practising certificates.

Bhagat also said that the documents of 32,000 lawyers enrolled with the Gujarat SBC have been sent for verification but only 11,000 out of those have passed verification so far while the process is still on for the remaining 21,000 lawyers' documents. However since the Supreme Court has asked SBCs to not delay elections further due to incomplete verification drives, verification in Gujarat has not affected the outcome of the voter list.

The Delhi bar council (DBC) will see 51,389 advocates voting as per the final electoral published on its website on 15 January 2018 which was the deadline provided by the Supreme Court for all SBCs to publish their final electoral rolls to commence elections by 15 February. The Delhi bar council currently has around 90,000 enrolled advocates and around 200 pratising advocates will be contesting for 25 member posts in the DBC, one contender told us. We understand that Luthra & Luthra partner and DBC veteran Vijay Sondhi is one of the contenders hopeful for the post of chairman.

The Uttar Pradesh bar council deleted more than half of the state's enrolled advocate strength from its 1.6 lakh advocates strong provisional electoral roll, the Karnataka bar council will see only up to 43,566 advocates voting even though its enrolled advocate strength increased by almost 15% since its last elections and the Maharashtra and Goa bar council until last week was yet to finalise its electoral roll but had 1.11 lakh verified advocates on its state rolls, having removed 76,000 after its verification drive, as we had reported.

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