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SCBA 2013 elections: 1372 voters, 6 pres candidates, 10 days to go, no Parekh

SCBA: Lots of self-cleansing required
SCBA: Lots of self-cleansing required
Exclusive: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) elections for 2013 will be held on 13 December, months behind the conventional schedule of polling in May and with the compact voter list of 1372 bar members, after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled that those voting in other bar association elections cannot vote in the SCBA elections.

SCBA president PH Parekh will not be contesting the elections this time, after a sudden change in plans due to the law day altercation between him and suspended SCBA secretary KC Kaushik which led the dignitaries present at the function to leave the venue. Parekh had apologised in the SC libraries for the unfortunate occurrence and had also informed the bar of a change in his decision to contest.

Parekh had won the elections in May 2011, defeating current Delhi bar council member Adish Aggarwala by two votes, while also leaving behind bar veteran Ram Jethmalani. It is understood that the small margin of defeat for previous SCBA vice-president Aggarwala, led the SCBA to file for the ‘one bar one vote’ rule in September 2011.

In the judgement written by justice JM Panchal and now chief justice of India (CJI) Altamas Kabir in SCBA vs BD Kaushik the SC made it a requirement for voting in the SCBA elections, to not vote in other bar association elections. Additionally, the member should have swiped their Supreme Court identity card 60 times, or alternatively appeared in at least 50 matters before the apex court, in the previous year.

Accordingly, the voter list displayed on the notice board of the SCBA on 26 November had 1500 initial names, which eventually came down to 1372, confirmed senior advocate Rupinder Suri.

Suri who had contested for SCBA president in May 2011, is also contesting for the office on 13 December alongside Aggarwala, Jethmalani, and senior advocates Rajiv Dutta, PK Jain and MN Krishnamani.

Krishnamani was SCBA president in 2004, whereas Jain was the vice president in 2010. Aggarwala was voted in Delhi bar council chairman, briefly, in March this year.

Jethmalani, who won in 2010, had engaged Parekh in a heated debate on the ‘one bar one vote’ rule in an SCBA meeting in January, as a result of which Parekh had temporarily resigned from the post of president.

Suri is contesting for the office of president for the second time. He was the SCBA vice president alongside Kapil Sibal in 1996 and KK Venugopal in 2009 as presidents, and was also president of the Advocates on Record Association in 2008.

He said: “There are issues of building a bridge between the serious bar and the Supreme Court. During (former CJI) Kapadia’s time the executive met him only once a year. Easy accessibility has to be there. Of course a lot of self-cleansing of the bar has to be done. We must select a good team and not just one candidate. There is some issue of getting the lost self-respect of the Supreme Court bar at the level it should be.

“We need to revisit our own self-esteem and give a message all over that yes we are serious about it and we can correct our own house.”

Nominations for the 2013 office bearers were closed on 30 November, and campaigning will last until 12 December, 4:30 in the evening when the debate for the posts of president and secretary will be held in the SCBA lawns.

Voting in breach of the one-bar-one-vote rule would now invite automatic suspension from SCBA membership for three years, according to the latest SCBA election rules.

Photo via @DKMahant

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