BCI imposes 3-year moratorium on opening of new law colleges

Taking note of mushrooming of law colleges in the country, the Bar Council of India has imposed a three-year moratorium on opening of new institutions barring national law universities, if proposed by a state.

The apex bar body said that it would lay stress on the improvement of standard of existing institutions and that the ones without any proper infrastructure or faculty would be closed down in the next three years.

In a meeting on Sunday, the council discussed and deliberated the issue raised by its member Ved Prakash Sharma regarding the mushrooming of law colleges in the country.

The council has also requested state governments and universities to stop unfair means and to fill up vacancies of law teachers in all colleges and universities within a period of four months.

It also observed that at present there were enough institutions in the country to “feed law courts” and to “serve people”.

“There is no dearth of advocates and the existing institutions are sufficient to produce required number of law graduates annually,” the BCI said.

It also said that since there was an urgent need to improve standard of teaching, the council would train law teachers in the country.

In its resolution, BCI has said that there are about 1,500 law colleges in the country and due to the “lethargic” attitude of universities and “some states”, several colleges were running without proper infrastructure.

“State governments seldom take interest in appointing law faculties in the Government Law Colleges and the constituent units. State government grant no objection certificates and universities are granting affiliations recklessly,” the BCI said in its release.

It said universities were unable to stop the use of unfair means at the law exams in most of rural areas and even the state governments do not show any interest in checking unfair means.

The bar body also lashed out at the University Grants Commission (UGC), saying 90 per cent of law colleges do not get any grant to improve their standards.

It also said that it was very easy to get an LLM or Ph.D degree, a reason why there was an “acute dearth” of “good law teachers” in the country.

“LLM and Ph.D degrees are not under the control of Bar Council of India and only approval/recognition of LLB degree is within its domain,” the BCI said.

It said that in 2016, the bar body had decided to stop approval of new law colleges and had requested state governments not to grant NOC to any law college or university for two years.

“The universities were requested to stop granting affiliations to new colleges and to improve the standard of existing institutions but even after the decision, more than 300 NOCs were issued.

“When BCI refused to grant approval of such affiliations, the institutions approached law courts and some of the high courts issued directions to consider the proposals,” said the bar body.

The council has also said that it will only consider the pending proposals and no fresh application shall be entertained for any new institution.

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 stays suspension of 126 TN lawyers till Aug 22

BCI stays suspension of 126 TN lawyers till Aug 22
BCI stays suspension of 126 TN lawyers till Aug 22

Bar Council of India has stayed its July 24 order suspending 126 Tamil Nadu lawyers, including leaders of various bar associations, in view of the temporary withdrawal of their three month-long protest over recent amendments to the disciplinary rules under the Advocates Act.

Staying the suspension till August 22, the BCI directed the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTP) to file a report with regard to attendance of lawyers in the courts across the state, BCTP sources here said today.

BCI had suspended the 126 lawyers and prohibited them from practising in any court or tribunal in the country on the eve the move by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of various bar associations to stage a sit-in at the Madras High Court here, High Court bench in Madurai and subordinate courts on July 25, protesting the amended rules to Advocates Act.

Those suspended included JAC Chief Co-Ordinator P Thirumalairajan, its member M Velmurugan, Madras High Court Advocates Association Secretary Arivazhagan, Women Lawyers Association President Nalini and Egmore Bar Association President Chandan Babu.

Undeterred by the action, the lawyers, who have been on a warpath over the amended rules which among others provide for disciplinary action against erring lawyers, went ahead with their protest and several of them had courted arrest on July 25.

However, at a meeting of the JAC held in Erode on August 14, the lawyers decided to temporarily withdraw all forms of agitations, including boycott of courts, and attend courts from today.

In the backdrop of this, BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra has stayed the suspension till August 22.

The lawyers are opposing a notification issued by the Madras High Court in May last making amendments to existing rules under the Advocates Act with a view to ensure peaceful conduct of court proceedings and suggesting disciplinary action to be taken against erring advocates.

The court later constituted a judges committee to look into the grievances of the lawyers and repeatedly urged the lawyers to give up their agitation and approach the panel.

It had also made it clear that practically the rules were already in abeyance for the time being in view of a Full Court’s assurance that no action would be taken under the rules till they were reviewed.

(Source : PTI)

SC imposes Rs 25,000 cost on Bar Council of India

supreme courtThe Supreme Court has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on Bar Council of India, the apex body for lawyers, for failing to respond to a plea seeking setting up of a permanent body to hold Common Law Admission Test (CLAT).

A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud passed the order on a PIL, which has pointed out various flaws in the conduct of the examination over the years and said that the BCI did not file the reply despite being granted the last opportunity.

CLAT is being held for fresh law graduates and clearing the test is a condition precedent for grant of licence to practice law.

“Additional Solicitor General appearing for the Union of India prays for and is granted four weeks’ time for filing counter affidavit. Learned counsel for respondent No 2 (Bar Council of India) has not filed counter affidavit despite last opportunity granted for the purpose.

“Counsel appearing on behalf of respondent No 2 prays for and is granted four weeks’ further time for filing counter affidavit subject to payment of Rs 25,000 to be deposited as costs in the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Welfare Trust,” the court said.

On July 8, the apex court had granted the respondents, including Centre and BCI “four weeks time finally for filing counter affidavit”.

The petition by Shamnad Basheer has sought appointment of an expert committee consisting of key stakeholders from the legal ecosystem to review the working of the CLAT and suggest institutional reforms. He had also prayed for constituting an independent professional permanent body tasked with conducting CLAT on an annual basis.

Revoke suspension of lawyer within a week: Madras HC to BCI

Revoke suspension of lawyer within a week: Madras HC to BCI
Revoke suspension of lawyer within a week: Madras HC to BCI

The Madras High Court has directed Bar Council of India (BCI) to revoke within a week the suspension of a Madurai-based advocate for alleged misconduct, while making it clear that its order was only limited to his case.

The division bench comprising justices V Ramasubramanian and N Kirubakaran before which a petition by M Thirunavukkarasu challenging BCI’s suspension order came up on Thursday, said it was true that suspension of a person in employment stands on a different footing than professionals.

This employee was entitled to get a portion of salary or wages as subsistence allowance. A professional does not have such a benefit, the judges said.

Similarly, one in employment was entitled for compensation in monetary terms if disciplinary proceedings went in his favour. This cannot happen in the case of a professional.

The judges said they realised that suspension of a professional was much harsher than that of a person in employment. “But unfortunately, the conduct that is expected of a professional is also of a higher order.”

A factory worker or last grade government servant, guilty of a particular type of misconduct (other than corrupt practice) may receive a lesser penalty than one holding a high office.

Therefore, the comparison sought to be made cannot stop only with the suffering, but the extent of conduct also, they said.

The judges pointed out the suspension order was passed on September 22, 2015. Five months has elapsed since then.

BCI, Delhi, in its September 22 orderhad come down hard on some lawyers from Tamil Nadu for storming into courtrooms, shouting slogans against judges and going on strike and suspended 15 advocates, including Secretary of Madurai Bar Association A K Ramasamy, and its president P Dharmaraj, who are facing contempt proceedings.

The order said the lawyers are suspended from practice and during the suspension period, would be debarred from practice in any court or before any authority or person in India.

It is against this order that Thirunavukkarasu, former president of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Advocates Association, moved court.

“The writ petition is disposed of, directing Bar Council of India to revoke the order of suspension passed against the petitioner within a week of receipt of a copy of this order.”

“We make it clear that we are not interfering with the disciplinary proceedings as they are also not under challenge before us. We also make it clear that by this order we have dealt only with the case of the petitioner before us and not others,” the judges said.

( Source – PTI )

SC seeks BCI reply on AIBE

SC seeks BCI reply on AIBE
SC seeks BCI reply on AIBE

The Supreme Court today sought response from apex bar body Bar Council of India on a plea challenging holding of All India Bar Examination for granting advocacy licences, saying the profession has become “overcrowded” and the system is “crying for reforms”.

A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit said the matter needs elaborate examination by a three-judge bench and indicated that it may appoint an amicus curaie to assist it in reforming the system.

The bench also said that it would examine as to whether conducting the AIBE falls under the statutory sanction of the Advocates Act or not.

“We have too many lawyers practising the profession and this profession has become overcrowded,” the court said, adding that there has to be a system in place to ensure that only capable professionals enter the profession.

“The system is crying for reforms,” the bench said.

The court was hearing a plea of R Nagabushana seeking quashing of BCIs notification on AIBE on the ground that it takes away the statutory right, given to an eligible person to practice law.

The BCI conducts AIBE to examine an advocates capability to practice the profession of law and it has been made mandatory.

The apex court yesterday had observed that the right to practice law is a fundamental right for LL.B degree holder and introduction of the examination by Bar Council of India for granting advocacy license “negates” the very right.

The BCI had claimed that the AIBE assesses skills at a basic level and is intended to set a minimum benchmark for admission to the practice of law.

“It (AIBE) addresses a candidates analytical abilities and understanding basic knowledge of law,” the bar body said.

The notification bringing the AIBE into force was passed by the Legal Education Committee and the members of the Bar Council of India in meetings held on April 10 and 30, 2010.

( Source – PTI )

Patiala Court: BCI to take action vs guilty lawyers

Patiala Court: BCI to take action vs guilty lawyers
Patiala Court: BCI to take action vs guilty lawyers

The Bar Council of India has decided to crack the whip on the group of unruly lawyers who indulged in violence at the Patiala House Court complex here, saying the licences of those found guilty will be suspended for life.

Apologising for the violence in the court premises yesterday which had occurred for a second time in a row ahead of the hearing of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumars sedition case, BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said names of the bar members, if found guilty of indulging in this violence, will be removed from the roll.

“I seek apology from mediapersons and that boy Kanhaiya Kumar for such mishappenings and misconduct. Strong action will be taken against lawyers, if found guilty of indulging in violence at Patiala House Court.

“The action includes suspension of their licence for their entire life. Therefore, we can remove name of any of the advocates from the roll of Bar Council for whole life,” Mishra said.

The apex law body has set up a three-member committee, headed by a former High Court judge, to probe the incidents of February 15 and 17 at the Patiala Court where a group of lawyers attacked Kanhaiya and thrashed students, media persons as well as a team of senior advocates constituted by the Supreme Court which had gone there to take a stock of the situation.

“We have made a special request to the committee to submit its report and complete its proceedings within three weeks from today and we hope that soon after receiving the report of inquiry committee, we will take a strong action against the guilty,” he said.

He said BCI has taken a serious view of the incidents and termed it “shameful” and added “handful of lawyers have done this.”

The men dressed in lawyers robes had allegedly thrown sharp-edged objects at the team of senior lawyers and hurled abuses and expletives at them.

( Source – PTI )

Shut law colleges which lack infra : CJI to BCI

Shut law colleges which lack infra : CJI to BCI
Shut law colleges which lack infra : CJI to BCI

Chief Justice of India T S Thakur today asked the Bar Council of India (BCI), the apex body of lawyers, to crack the whip on law colleges which lack appropriate infrastructure by shutting them down.

“There are law colleges where you may not have faculty, no library or where attendance will not be marked. I believe there are law colleges where you have to just go and pay the fees, the rest is taken care off.

“How can a legal profession or how can you tolerate this kind of situation? I believe this is a great responsibility cast upon the Bar Council of India (BCI) and bar councils to shut down such shops. I am sure that the admission standards will be raised,” Justice Thakur said.

Calling it a challenge for the BCI to remove lawyers who bring disrepute to the legal profession, the CJI said there are some people who enter the field just because it adds respectability.

“Unwanted and unprofessional members in the bar and their isolation and removal are also a challenge. I can assure that the real core of the profession is very good. But there are some people who enter into this profession because it adds respectability.

“…I think one of the challenges that you have to take immediately is that you must identify and weed out such elements so that the bar remains in its pristine glory, in its purest form… So that only the professions remains,” he said during a felicitation ceremony at Bar Council of India.

The CJI said disciplinary control over members of the bar is very important and suggested that an independent tribunal could be appointed for action against lawyers.

“So you (BCI) need to deal with such elements very very seriously. Appointing a tribunal for disciplinary action can be one such thing. If you have five lawyers sitting to decide disciplinary action against another lawyer, it will be embarrassing. Why should you face that embarrassment? Why not have independent tribunal for the action which you (BCI) say can’t be tolerated at any cost?” Justice Thakur asked.
The CJI also red-flagged the deteriorating quality of law

education, and asked the BCI to raise the standard of admission to law colleges and into the legal profession.

“Why can’t the Bar Council say that we will not accept anything less than first division and that too through a competitive examination? And, you should restrict the number of admissions these colleges give so that you can control this. Otherwise this profession will be so overcrowded.

“The more this profession gets overcrowded, the more the malpractices because people will have to survive. You have to make a mechanism so that only the best come into the profession. Let the profession become competitive and we can say we are no way less than any other profession,” he said.

Other judges who were present during the occasion include Supreme Court judges Dipak Misra, A K Sikri, M Y Iqbal, R Banumathi, Arun Mishra and P C Pant.

BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra highlighted the steps taken by the Council against strikes and absenteeism from work in court called by various bar associations.

He also said that the Council has decided to revise the curriculum of law courses to meet today’s competitive standards.

( 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 orders framing of charges against ex-BCI official

Court orders framing of charges against ex-BCI official
Court orders framing of charges against ex-BCI official

A Delhi court has ordered framing of charges against five persons, including a former Vice- Chairman and an ex-member of Bar Council of India (BCI), in an alleged corruption case.

Special CBI Judge Manoj Kumar Nagpal said prima facie various offences including, cheating, criminal conspiracy of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act are made out against former BCI chairman Raju Dhanpal Raj, its ex member Rajinder Singh Rana and three others for allegedly demanding illegal gratification to give favourable inspection report regarding a college in Rohtak.

The court has fixed the case for November 21 for formal framing of charges against Rana and Raj, who were then public servants, Ram Bharose Goel, president of Vaish Education Society, its member and college’s then principal Ajay Singhania and Subhash Gupta.

It directed the accused, who are on bail, to be present in the court on November 21, the next date of hearing.

The court, however, said no charge of forgery for purpose of cheating and using forged documents as genuine is made out against the accused.

According to CBI, the case was registered on February 25, 2011 on the basis of source information initially against Rana, Raj and Goel.

It was alleged that the two BCI officials had conspired with Goel for giving a favourable inspection report regarding Vaish College of Law, Rohtak and Rana started demanding illegal gratification from Goel and after negotiations, Rs seven lakh were paid.

Two mobile handsets were also allegedly accepted by Rana and Raj as part of the illegal gratification, it said.

The approval was to be granted by BCI for starting a new law course in the college which was to be run by this society.

CBI alleged the recorded conversations between the accused revealed that after negotiation Rs seven lakh bribe amount was finalised and Goel and Singhania had come to Delhi to give the amount to Rana at his residence in August 2010.

All the accused have denied the allegations levelled against them by the CBI.

( Source – PTI )