Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question as to whether after transfer of a disciplinary proceeding, as per the mandate enshrined under Section 36B(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961 to the Bar Council of India (BCI) from the State Bar Council, can the BCI, instead of enquiring into the complaint and adjudicating thereon, send it back to the State Bar Council with the direction to decide the controversy within a stipulated time, the Court held that the legislature never intended a complaint made against an Advocate either from the perspective of the complainant or from the delinquent to be transferred to BCI, again to be sent back. It was held that BCI, while exercising original jurisdiction on transfer of a complaint, cannot exercise the appellate jurisdiction.

The Court, however, took note of the fact that on many occasions disciplinary authority of the State Bar Council does not dispose of the complaint within the stipulated period, as a consequence of which the proceeding stands transferred to the BCI. Looking down upon such practice, the Court said that once a complaint is made by a litigant, it has to follow a definite procedure and is required to be dealt with as per the command of the Act to conclude the disciplinary proceeding within a period of one year from the date of receipt of the complaint or the date of initiation of the proceedings at the instance of the State Bar Council. Not to do something what one is required to do, tantamount to irresponsibility and the prestige of an institution or a statutory body inheres in carrying out the responsibility.

The bench of Dipak Misra and A.M. Khanwilkar, JJ, hence, directed the State Bar Councils to take a periodical stock of cases in each meeting with regard to the progress of the Disciplinary Committee, find out the cause of delay and guide themselves to act with expediency so that the Council, as a statutory body, does its duty as commanded under the Act. [Ajitsinh Arjunsinh Gohil v. Bar Council of Gujarat, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 351, decided on 06.04.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter where the transparency in the process of designation of senior advocates was sought, the Court directed the matter to be listed in the month of February, 2017 for final hearing along with another related matter filed before the Delhi High Court.

A Writ Petition (C) No.6331 of 2016 titled National Lawyers’ Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms & Anr. Vs. Bar Council of India was filed before the Delhi High Court challenging the constitutional validity of Sections 16 and 23(5) of the Advocates Act, 1961 which provide the statutory basis for designation of lawyers as senior advocates. Hence, the Court said that if the source of power for such designation is itself under challenge it would be more appropriate to hear the matters together by transferring the petition pending in the High Court to this Court.

The 3-judge bench of T.S. Thakur, CJ and Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud and L. Nageswar Rao, JJ said that the issues touching designation of lawyers as per the prevalent procedure appears to be causing considerable dissatisfaction among a section of the bar which fact is evident from the large number of interventions made in these proceedings and an equally large number of solutions proposed at the bar for improvement of the system. [Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 3, order dated 02.01.2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: While considering the petitions filed under Article 226 and 227 of the High Court by petitioners who were aggrieved of rejection of their admission to LL.B. course by the BCI, the Single Bench of L. Narayana Swamy, J held that the action on the part of BCI is just, sound and proper and is in accordance with the law.

The petitioners in the present case were denied admission to LLB course on one or the other grounds. This action was alleged to be violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioners had questioned (i) the authority of the BCI in deciding qualification for LLB and (ii) justification of rejection of admission for the non-compliance of eligibility criteria.

This Court, while analysing the facts and circumstances of the case, in light of the powers and functions of the BCI, dismissed the petitions and upheld the power of Bar Council in regulating the eligibility criteria and said that the qualification obtained by Open University or private study, is not a qualification for the purpose of consideration. The Court also relied on the Supreme Court’s observance in Baldev Raj Sharma v. Bar Council of India,1989 Supp (2) SCC 91 to hold that the Bar Council of India is concerned with the standard of the legal profession and education in the country and is thereby empowered to set regulations for the same. [Sudha Rani K v. State of Karnataka, 2016 SCC OnLine Kar 7358, decided on 16.12.2016]