Delhi police protest darkest day in history : Bar Council of India

The Bar Council of India Wednesday said that the protest by Delhi Police yesterday seems to be “politically motivated” and the “darkest day in the history of independence” and asserted that the guilty police officials should be arrested within a week.

BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said in a press release that earlier the BCI had asked the Bar Association of Delhi to call off their ongoing strike but after seeing “Delhi Police’s conduct”, it cannot “sit tight over the matter”.

The apex bar body alleged that the policemen remained “absent from duty, shouted slogans, used filthy language” and threatened to “smash and kill lawyers” openly.

The BCI in its letter has also demanded constitution of a high-level committee to find out who were involved in “planning the illegal protest of police yesterday”.

“Our demand is to arrest the guilty police officials within a period of one week, falling which we shall resort to peaceful dharna for the arrest of these people and for proper disciplinary action against them. The Bar stands united,” said the release.

BCI asks Jammu, Kathua bar bodies to call off strike

The Bar Council of India (BCI) today asked the Jammu and Kathua bar associations to call off their strike and decided to send a five-member team headed by a former high court chief justice to investigate the alleged incident of misconduct on part of the lawyers there in connection with the Kathua rape-murder case.

BCI chairman and senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra told reporters that if any lawyer is found guilty, then the council will go to the extend of cancelling the legal practise licence.

“The BCI has decided to issue a direction and make an appeal to the Jammu High Court Bar Association and the Kathua Bar Association to call off their strike with immediate effect. We have made a request and issued a direction to them to convene an extra-ordinary meeting tomorrow to decide on the issue,” he said.

The bar council’s decision came after its general body meeting which was convened today in the backdrop of the apex court’s notice to it.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognisance of a strike call given by the Kathua and the Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in connection with the gang rape and killing of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu region and issued notice to the bar bodies.

The Bar Association of Jammu had on April 13 said that it was extending its strike till April 17 against the “growing illegal presence of Rohingyas and Bangladeshi nationals,” while alleging that its agitation for a CBI probe into the Kathua rape-cum-murder case was wrongly being portrayed as “communal”.

“If we find that they were really indulging in misconduct and the strike was illegal and altogether objectionable, then we will take appropriate action. We can go to the extend of cancelling the licence of the lawyers. We have the power,” Mishra said.

The apex bar body has decided to send a team headed by former high court chief justice Tarun Agarwala and comprising two co-chairmen of the council, S Prabhakaran and R G Shah, advocate Razia Begum and independent lawyer Naresh Dixit.

The BCI chairman also said that the team will visit the state on April 20 to investigate the matter and after consulting all the persons concerned, it will submit its report to the bar council which will in turn submit its report before the apex court.

“Since the case is fixed on April 19 and the team is going on April 20, we will seek two or three days adjournment in the Supreme Court,” Mishra said.

The minor victim had disappeared from near her home in a village near Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir on January 10. Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The Crime Branch of J-K Police, which probed the case, filed a main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.

The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged and raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

Supreme Court takes cognisance of lawyers’ obstruction in Kathua gangrape case

The Supreme Court today took a serious note of lawyers obstructing the judicial process in the Kathua gangrape and murder case and initiated a case on its own accord saying such impeding of the process of law “affects the delivery of justice”.

The top court said that lawyers’ bodies have solemn duty to not obstruct advocates representing the accused or the victims’ family in the courts.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud sought responses on the conduct of lawyers from Bar Council of India, Jammu and Kashmir Bar Council, Jammu High Court Bar Association and Kathua district bar association by April 19.

“In our considered opinion no lawyer can prevent the advocates representing the accused or victim’s family in the case,” the bench said.

It sought reply from bar bodies on various aspects including the question whether lawyers representing victim or accused can be stopped from appearing in the court by another group of lawyers.

“Obstruction of process of law and delivery of justice, and that too by lawyers cannot be condoned and is unethical. Access to justice cannot be impeded by lawyers,” the bench said.

It said that every party before any court is entitled to engage a lawyer and if advocates oppose this principle then it would be destructive of justice dispensation system.

“It is impermissible under law and is unethical to prevent filing of charge sheet or oppose representation of victim’s family by lawyers,” it said.

The bench also took note of the fact that Jammu High Court Bar Association has passed the resolution to protest and not to attend the court and said that “it is solemn duty of the bar to not create obstruction”.

The apex court agreed to take the suo motu cognisance of the matter after several lawyers of the apex court pointed out the incident in which agitating advocates at Kathua district obstructed police from filing of charge sheet in the court yesterday.

Standing counsel for Jammu and Kashmir Shoeb Alam, who was called to the CJI court informed that the police had yesterday filed the charge sheet before the magistrate at his home.

He strongly opposed the plea of lawyers that case be handed over to CBI for further investigation and said that thorough investigations were being carried out by the state crime branch.

Alam said that it is already a settled law that investigation cannot be transferred to CBI after the charge sheet has been filed in the court.

“Police team was heckled by the lawyers and prevented from submitting the charge sheet before the Chief Judicial Magistrate court in Kathua,” Alam said.

He said that subsequently the police had to produce the eight accused in the case and submit the charge sheet at the residence of the magistrate.

Alam informed the court that police have also registered a FIR against some lawyers for attempting to prevent police from filing charge sheet in Kathua rape case.

A group of lawyers including P V Dinesh, Gopal Shankar Narayanan and Shobha Gupta said that an advocate for victim’s family was also given threats and obstructed from appearing in the court.

Earlier in the day, the top court had asked a lawyer P V Dinesh to bring materials on record to take judicial note of a strike call given by Kathua and Jammu and Kashmir bar associations in relation to the gangrape and killing of the eight-year-old girl in Jammu region.

Dinesh referred to the “unfortunate” decisions of the local bar that had allegedly come in support of the people who had gangraped and killed the minor in Kathua.

“Something must come on record. We have nothing on record,” the bench had said in the morning, when the matter was first mentioned.

Dinesh submitted that the apex court should take note of bar’s actions and issue directions to them and the Bar Council of India to ensure that the rule of law prevails.

The minor girl had disappeared from near her home in the forests next to Rasana village in Kathua, on January 10.

Her body was found in the same area a week later.

The Crime Branch of police which probed the case filed a main charge sheet against seven persons and a separate charge sheet against a juvenile in a court in Kathua district earlier this week.

The charge sheet revealed chilling details about how the girl was allegedly kidnapped, drugged, raped inside a place of worship before being killed.

Jammu has been on tenterhooks since the brutal incident. The bar associations have been opposing the action against the accused, alleging that the minority Dogras were being targeted.

Lawyers took to the streets shouting slogans and trying to block the road outside the court where the charge sheets have been filed.

BCI panel discusses SC crisis with Justice Arun Mishra

A Bar Council of India panel today met Supreme Court judge Arun Mishra and discussed the crisis in the apex judiciary.

Justice Mishra was assigned by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra a PIL relating to the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case.

Four senior Supreme Court judges — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — had on Friday mounted a virtual revolt against the CJI at a press meet here, raising questions on “selective” case allocation and certain judicial orders, sending shockwaves across the judiciary and polity.

The panel led by BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra arrived at Justice Mishra’s residence at around 2 p.m. and discussed the crisis during a short meeting.

The BCI delegation had earlier met justices Chelameswar, R K Agrawal, A M Khanwilkar and other top court judges and is likely to meet Chief Justice Misra.

Two top court judges — justices S A Bobde and L Nageswara Rao — also met Justice Chelameswar, who had led the four judges in the unprecedented press conference on Friday at his official residence here, sources said.

The meeting of these judges took place soon after the seven-member delegation of the BCI, the regulatory body of lawyers, met Justice Chelameswar at his residence to discuss the crisis that has hit the judiciary.

A BCI source said that the BCI delegation’s meetings with the judges will be on till late in the evening as some of the judges are away from Delhi.

SC deprecates lawyer for saying her client will be raped

SC deprecates lawyer for saying her client will be raped
SC deprecates lawyer for saying her client will be raped

The Supreme Court today deprecated a lawyer for saying that her client, a fugitive businesswoman residing in London, is getting threats from lenders that she will be molested and raped on arrival in India.

The top court asked the woman’s counsel to “behave responsibly” or it will refer her to Bar Council of India for appropriate action.

A bench of justices Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar said that such arguments cannot be allowed in the Supreme Court and lawyers need to make their arguments responsibly.

The court was hearing a case of businesswoman Ritika Awasty, a promoter of Bush Foods Overseas Pvt Ltd, who is facing criminal trial in Uttar Pradesh on charges of cheating, forgery and criminal breach of trust but is evading arrest after she was allowed to go to London by the top court last year to see her husband and daughter.

“Be responsible madam. What is happening here. This is Supreme Court which means Supreme Court. These type of arguments cannot be allowed here.

“Since when lawyers are becoming spokesperson of their clients. You have to behave responsibly or we will refer you to Bar Council of India,” the bench warned the counsel for businesswoman.

The counsel then apologised to the court and said that she had received the affidavit from her client only in the morning and was only stating the facts.

The apex court then directed the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government to expeditiously complete the proceedings to declare the businesswoman proclaimed offender.

It even directed attaching of the properties in the name of Awasty and her husband in India.

Earlier, this week on December 12, the apex court had pulled up the Centre for “not even bothering about” its orders on extradition matters and questioned the government’s will in getting persons evading law back from foreign countries.

Awasty was allowed by the apex court to travel to London to see her husband and daughter on January 2016 after giving an undertaking that she will return by March 31, 2016.

However, the time was later extended till May 31, 2016, but she did not return from London which compelled the apex court to forfeit her security of Rs 86 lakh, cancellation of her bail and initiation of contempt proceedings.

Awasty had challenged the Allahabad High Court order refusing to quash FIR lodged against her but was granted bail and allowed to travel abroad by the apex court.

The court had also revoked her passport after she failed to return to India by May 31, 2016.

( Source – PTI )

BCI Rules on lawyers verification: SC to hear univs

BCI Rules on lawyers verification: SC to hear univs
BCI Rules on lawyers verification: SC to hear univs

The Supreme Court today said it would hear all the universities in the matter relating to challenge to the Bar Council of India (BCI) Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules 2015, which mandate verification of lawyers.

“We will hear all of you and decide it once and for all,” a bench of Justices P C Ghose and R F Nariman said after senior advocate K K Venugopal, representing BCI, said that the apex court can hear the University Grants Commission (UGC) and all the univeristies in the matter.

At the outset, Venugopal said it is assumed that there are 1.7 million lawyers in the country but no verification has been done for long.

“This 1.7 million is only an imaginary number. How many of them are still practising is not known,” he said.

The bench also asked BCI to publish advertisements in a national newspaper and different regional newspapers asking the universities to join the matter pending before the apex court.

When the counsel appearing for some petitioners told the court that process of verification being followed by BCI was never-ending, the bench said “Don’t worry, we will take care of it”.

The bench asked the UGC to communicate its order to all universities and fixed the matter for hearing after two weeks.

The apex court is hearing a batch of petitions challenging BCI’s 2015 Rules making it mandatory for all the lawyers to undergo the verification drive to check the professional credentials of practicing advocates.

BCI, the apex bar body, has undertaken the verification drive to weed out law practitioners with fake law degrees.

The BCI had in 2015 amended the rules for the verification process to filter out fake advocates among over 15 lakh practising laywers in the country.

BCI Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules 2015 makes it mandatory for all lawyers to re-register in a new format where they have to compulsorily submit all their certificates starting from class X board results.

( Source – PTI )

Train young lawyers to understand profession,ethics

Train young lawyers to understand profession,ethics
Train young lawyers to understand profession,ethics

Chief Justice of India J S Khehar today urged the Bar Council of India to train young lawyers to make them understand the profession and its work ethics.

He also asked the apex lawyers’ body, BCI, to improve the quality of legal institutions by training and helping litigants and make the lawyers competent enough to discharge their obligations towards the society.

“Have the institutions right. 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,” he said.

Justice Khehar was addressing the Bar Council members during a function organised to felicitate him on his elevation as the CJI.

While welcoming the CJI and other dignitaries, BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra extended his support to the Chief Justice-headed collegium, while expressing concern over delay in appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

“The BCI is seriously concerned about the delay tactics and objectionable conditions proposed by the government in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP)–a document to guide appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges.

“BCI demands that all the vacancies in High Courts and the Supreme Court should be filled up at the earliest. We cannot accept any condition in the MoP which our collegium and the Chief Justice of India do not think proper. The Bar stands with the judiciary whole-heartedly and will take necessary steps for strengthening it,” Mishra said.

( Source – PTI )

BCI warns Tamil Nadu lawyers against boycott

BCI warns Tamil Nadu lawyers against boycott
BCI warns Tamil Nadu lawyers against boycott

The Bar Council of India has warned the Tamil Nadulawyers that disciplinary action would be initiated against them for indulging in court boycott to protest against certain amendments made to existing rules under the Advocates Act.

The BCI also directed the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu andPuducherry to identity such lawyers and submit a list to it by June 22.

“The state Bar Council is requested and directed to find out, earmark such errant advocates, representatives members, and forward their names along with their full details to BCI latest by June 22,” said BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra in the communication.

If names were sent “necessary disciplinary action” could be taken against them at the earliest, he said.

The communique has come in view of continuation of court boycott in some districts of Tamil Nadu, despite assurance from the Madras High Court and the full court meeting that the recent amendments to disciplinary rules empowering High Court and district courts to debar lawyers indulging in serious misconduct would not be used against lawyers.

A precondition for the offer was withdrawal of strike by various Bar associations.

“…Such action cannot be tolerated. The action of these so-called leaders of Bar Associations makes it apparent they are acting with some ulterior motive. Some of the representatives of a few Bar Associations are acting and behaving in most irresponsible manner, and, in fact, this is a clear case of misconduct”, the communique said.

Confirming receipt of the order from Delhi, Chairman of Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry D Selvam said he had dispatched the BCI order to all 24 members of state Bar council.

The threat of further action on the lawyers has come at a time when more than 40 lawyers in the state are serving suspension, after being proceeded against for various acts of misconduct since September 14.

On May 25, the High Court had issued a notification making amendments to existing rules under Advocates Act with a view to ensuring peaceful conduct of court proceedings and suggesting disciplinary action to be taken against erring advocates.

However, on June 13, Chief Justice of Madras High Court had said he would not act against lawyers in pursuant to the amended rules, but he could not prevent BCI from proceeding against bar associations if they continue agitation.

( Source – PTI )

Disciplinary action: HC directs BCI to take a decision on PIL

NCDRCThe Madurai Bench of Madras High Court has directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to take a decision within a week on a plea seeking to transfer the disciplinary proceedings against 14 lawyers of the Madurai Bar suspended by the Council to Bengaluru.

A division bench, comprising Justice R.Sudhakar and Justice V M Velumani, gave the direction on a PIL by one M Moahamed Rafi seeking a direction to restore the disciplinary proceedings against the advocates to Karnataka State Bar Council, as originally proposed by BCI.

The petitioner had also prayed to the court to quash the October 12 last order of Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BTCP) rejecting his request that the inquiry be conducted by the Bar Council of Karnataka.

The bench said the interim injunction granted by it on October 26 restraining the Special Disciplinary Committee (SDC), set up by BTCP, from going ahead with its proceedings against the lawyers would continue till BCI took a decision.

“The Bar Council of India, we hope, would dispose of the matter within a period of one week from the date of receipt of a copy of this order,” the bench said.

The matter related to the suspension of 14 advocates by the BCI vide its September 22 last order for storming court rooms and shouting slogans against judges of the high court bench in Madurai.

The BCI had also asked the Karnataka Bar Council to set up a disciplinary committe to proceed against the advocates. But it later modified the order and allowed BTCP to conduct the inquiry.

Challenging the BCI order, the petitioner claimed two of the SDC members were close friends of two of the suspended lawyers and several lawyers of the BCTP were openly supporting the errant lawyers.

In response to the PIL, the BTCP submitted that as the order to conduct the inquiry in Tamil Nadu itself was accepted and passed by BCI, it had no power to change the place of inquiry. The BCI alone had the power to change the place, it added.

Hence, the division bench directed the BCI to take a decision within a week.

Court seeks BCI response over barring DU law graduates

The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought responses of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and Delhi Bar Council (DBC) on a plea challenging the apex law body’s order barring DU law graduates from being enrolled as advocates.

Justice Manmohan issued notices to BCI, DBC, Delhi University (DU) and its Faculty of Law and sought the replies by Nov 22 on a law student’s petition for quashing BCI’s September order.

The court order came on a fresh plea filed by Vinerjeet Kaur Sandhu.

Sandhu, a fresh law graduate from DU, through advocate Naushad Ahmad Khan, said the letter issued by BCI to DBC, other State Bar Councils and DU Vice-Chancellor was “unconstitutional, arbitrary, unjustified and against the principle of natural justice”.

The plea sought direction to BCI and DBC that Sandhu be enrolled with DBC or any other state Bar Council of her choice as an advocate as she has completed the LLB (3-year Course) in the academic year 2014.

The petition further submitted that almost 1600 students have passed out during the academic year 2013-14 and if the order of BCI is not set aside, “the career of these graduates would be jeopardized and tarnished and also will adversely affect the academic career of those pursuing the law course”.

Recently, another plea was filed by law student Tarun Narang through advocate Naushad Ahmad Khan, seeking to quash the BCI’s September order that law graduates who passed out from the three centres of Delhi University’s Law Faculty this year cannot be enrolled as advocates.

On this plea, a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw Nov 8 had directed the BCI to file a report on the number of students it has enrolled as advocates and the number of applications pending for enrolment for 2013-14 by Dec 17.

Khan told the court that 1,600 students are adversely affected, who are yet to be enrolled and 7,500 are also indirectly affected because of non-approval of Campus Law Centre, Law Centre-I and Law Centre-II.

On Sep 22, BCI, which regulates legal education in the country, asked state bar councils not to enrol the students who passed out from the three centres of DU’s Law Faculty as advocates as the Law Faculty failed to obtain “extension of approval of affiliation” from BCI despite repeated reminders.

The DU Law Faculty failed to obtain extension from the BCI beyond the academic year 2010-11.

Every year, the Law Faculty admits around 2,000 students in its three centres, two of which run in the evening.

Seeking quashing of the BCI order, Khan told the court that the decision was arbitrary and against the Legal Education Rules, 2008.