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BCI anti-youngster rules challenged in Madras HC writ

A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Madras high court by a 23-year-old lawyer against the Constitutional Validity of Rule 7 of the Bar Council of India (BCI) Rules 2014 that were introduced earlier this month and, if approved, would effectively ban advocates without several years of lower-court experience from higher courts .

The petitioner is lawyer Akshai Mani, represented by advocate Naveen Kumar Murthi, who both practise in the Madras high court where the case is listed to be heard for Monday.

The rules, if approved by state bar councils and brought into force by another Bar Council of India (BCI) directive, would not allow any advocates to practise in high courts without at least two years of trial court experience, with Supreme Court practice in turn requiring another three years of high court experience under the rules.

The petition (Download PDF) states:

It is submitted that as big blow to young lawyers, Rule 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 stipulates that newly enrolled lawyers can practise only in Subordinate Courts for two years and for practising in the Supreme Court, they will have to have practised for 2 years in Subordinate Courts and 3 years in High Courts...

It is respectfully submitted that these rules are ex facie contrary to Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961 which provides that the right to practise before all Courts in the country including the Supreme Court...

It is submitted that as per Section 30 of the Advocates Act which has been passed by the Parliament provides an absolute right for an Advocate to practise in all Courts and Tribunals, including the Supreme Court. This right that has been conferred by a Parliamentary Legislation cannot be taken away or abrogated by any Rule or Subordinate Legislation that has been framed by the Respondents. These Rules has created a huge furore among the young lawyers practising before this Hon’ble Court and has proven to be a huge setback for young lawyers and law students aspiring to take up law practise before the Supreme Court and High Courts...

I humbly submit that such a measure by the Bar Council of India would be the last nail in the coffin for young and aspiring lawyers who are interested in practise of law before the Supreme Court and High Courts. The right to practise conferred under Section 30 of the Act is derived from Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and in the event there has to be any fetter imposed exercising the power conferred under Article 19(6), it can be done only by way of a statutory amendment to the Advocates Act and not by Rules framed by the 1 st Respondent.

Murthi has also in previous personal petitions challenged the all India bar exam (AIBE) before the Madras high court, which remains pending before the Supreme Court with other petitions.

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