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BCI tells CJI: Still don’t know how many lawyers there are but now thinks 45% are ‘fake’ after only 6.5 lakh sign-ups

The BCI’s guesstimate has increased from 30% to up to 45% now, as state bar council elections remain suspended...

The number of 'fake' lawyers keeps growing, according to BCI
The number of 'fake' lawyers keeps growing, according to BCI

According to the Times of India Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Manan Kumar Mishra told Supreme Court Justice JS Khehar last week at a party organised for the new Chief Justice of India (CJI):

The number of practicing lawyers is about to come down to 55-60% after the completion of the verification process. This will certainly improve the quality of our legal profession.

As per the 2012 election statistics of BCI, we had almost 14 lakh voters, but since this verification process has started, we have received only 6.5 lakh applications.

The Chief reportedly responded with:

I am so happy that BCI has started the verification process. But it is not only about people with false degrees, but also those with no degrees. These people work without a licence. They go to court and practice without any authority. We need to start much before, right from the institutions.

In August 2015, Mishra had announced that 30% of lawyers were fake, although the exact number could not “be exactly ascertained by now” and that the BCI would have final figures within 7 months.

Around 18 months later, the BCI seems to still not have a clear idea about how many lawyers there actually are in India.

And that is despite its ill-fated lawyer registration drive, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court, and that has led to at least 11 bar councils, including Mishra’s own in Bihar, having suspended re-elections in some cases for more than two years now.

However, the Supreme Court told the BCI in October 2016 to finish verifications by January, and ordered it to frame guidelines and for state bar councils to hold elections.

In 2013, an RTI response revealed that the BCI had 1.3 million advocates on the rolls of various state bar councils.

However, in January 2013, Mishra claimed there were 1.7 million lawyers in an interview, while in June 2016 Mishra said there were “about” 2 million.

Also said at the same function:

Mishra in his welcome speech supported the judiciary in its fight with the government over appointments: “The BCI is seriously concerned about the delay tactics and objectionable conditions proposed by the government in the Memorandum of Procedure, a document to guide appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges.”

CJI Khehar in turn said: “Everyone needs a good, competent lawyer, be it the Prime Minister or a judge of the Supreme Court.” He added that the BCI should train young lawyers to help them understand the profession and to improve the quality of legal institutions:

Lawyers serve the society. Lawyers should be the best. The institution should be competent to discharge the obligation. Arrange training for people who join the bar. People who are scared. People who do not know their profession. Help them. You need to help a lawyer one time, he will then fight every case by himself as he will understand how to search for the law. Also teach them ethics. Have good institutions.

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