•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences
An estimated 3-minute read

Ethics & Bar Council(s)

 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in

The short point which arose for consideration (in 9 complaints and one appeal) before the Central Information Commission was whether the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Councils are ‘Public Authorities’ within the meaning of Section 2(h) (b) of the RTI Act, 2005.


The Bar Council of India, in all its wisdom, had passed a Resolution dated June 27, 2009 stating thereby that since they are not funded either directly or indirectly by the Central or State Government, they are not covered under the RTI Act and thus they were not privy to disclose any information sought by citizens under the RTI Act.

By virtue of such resolution, the State Bar Councils were bound as well.


In the proceedings before the CIC, disposed of vide the aforesaid common order dated January 11, 2010, the BCI contended that even though they admitted that were a statutory body created under an Act of Parliament, viz. Advocates Act, 1961, since they did not meet all the elements of Section 2(h), they could not be considered a ‘public authority’ under the RTI Act.


Section 2(h) states defined ‘public authority’ which means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted—

(a) by or under the Constitution;

(b) by any other law made by Parliament;

(c) by any other law made by State Legislature;

(d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any—

(i)  body owned, controlled or substantially financed;


(ii) Non-Government Organization (NGO) substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;


The aforesaid argument was advanced by the BCI which is the one and only body representing the Indian Bar, having its statutory basis and the backing of democratic statutory elections from the primary level onwards for its constitution. The Bar Council of India boasts of the Attorney General of India, the Chief Law officer of the Government of India the Solicitor General of India , both being Honorary Members of the Bar council of India and that of the accredited seniors in the Indian Bar, many of whom are internationally accepted legal and jurists.


The absurdity of such an argument, especially when the same is advanced by BCI, if analyzed would cast serious aspersions on the legal competence, ethical standards and motive/agenda of the persons who are office bearers of the BCI and / or the State Bar Councils. Another curious aspect of this argument is that apart from finding favour within the BCI, it also found support with the competent authority under the RTI(SPIO) which heard the grievance at the first round (since the CIC was also dealing with an appeal).


The Central Information Commission expressed surprise at such an argument , especially when it came from BCI in its order dated January 11,2010 and went on to hold that the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Councils are indeed ‘Public Authorities’ within the meaning of Section 2(h) (b) of the RTI Act, 2005.


Further , vide the said order, the Bar Councils were directed to take all necessary steps top carry out their duties and responsibilities assigned by the RTI Act.


The author is not aware of whether the aforesaid order has been carried in further Appeal and whether it stands stayed by a superior court.

However, the BCI website


It is interesting to note that the millennium pledge of BCI, as boldly stated on its website, is to rededicate itself to maintenance of highest standards of professional ethics, advancement of legal profession and service to humanity. Yet, the same statutory body took such a stand (Resolution dated June 27, 2009) simply to avoid public scrutiny and one wonders why.

Further, even after five months after passing of the aforesaid order, the BCI continues to default in performance of its obligations under the RTI Act, 2005.Its website does not even disclose the name of its PIO and a lot of other information which they are duty bound to provide under the RTI Act.


Click to show 1 comment
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.