Bar Council of India's take on legislators doubling up as lawyers
What is the issue ?
- A PIL had been admitted by the Supreme Court in March 2018 which contested whether it is legally possible to allow legislators to double up as lawyers.
- Allowing legislators to practise as an advocate in the Supreme Court and the High Courts is a very serious ‘conflict of interest’ because it may allow the judges to feel obliged to serve their interests.
Bar Council of India's take on the matter :
- We cannot stop or ban MPs from practising, but there is an exception to it. The lawyer MPs or MLAs, if they start any motion of impeachment or a removal proceeding against any High Court or Supreme Court judge, they will not be allowed to practice in that particular court.
???????What did the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) say ?
- Legislators donning the lawyers robes was a “matter of serious concern to both the judiciary and the legislature”.
- “They also utilise their position as MPs/MLAs to be visible in the public domain, including on television where they give interviews or participate in shows. This essentially amounts to advertising, as their ‘brand’ is promoted among the public, many of whom are potential litigants".
- "This virtually seamless transition between the two spheres by these legislators is causing irreversible harm to both the profession and public interest."
About the Bar Council of India :
- The Bar Council of India is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar.
- Performs the regulatory function by prescribing standards of professional conduct and etiquette and by exercising disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar.
- Sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to Universities whose degree in law will serve as qualification for enrolment as an advocate.
Performs certain representative functions by protecting the rights, privileges and interests of advocates and through the creation of funds for providing financial assistance to organise welfare schemes for them.
- The Bar Council of India was established by Parliament under the Advocates Act, 1961.
The following statutory functions under Section 7 cover the Bar Council’s regulatory and representative mandate for the legal profession and legal education in India:
- To lay down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates.
- To lay down procedure to be followed by its disciplinary committee and the disciplinary committees of each State Bar Council.
- To safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of advocates.
- To promote and support law reform.
- To deal with and dispose of any matter which may be referred to it by a State Bar Council.
- To promote legal education and to lay down standards of legal education. This is done in consultation with the Universities in India imparting legal education and the State Bar Councils.
- To recognise Universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrolment as an advocate. The Bar Council of India visits and inspects Universities, or directs the State Bar Councils to visit and inspect Universities for this purpose.
- To conduct seminars and talks on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals and papers of legal interest.
- To organise legal aid to the poor.
- To recognise on a reciprocal basis, the foreign qualifications in law obtained outside India for the purpose of admission as an advocate in India.
- To manage and invest the funds of the Bar Council.
- To provide for the election of its members who shall run the Bar Councils.
The Bar Council of India can also constitute funds for the following purposes:
- Giving financial assistance to organise welfare schemes for poor, disabled or other advocates,
- Giving legal aid
- Establishing law libraries.
The Bar Council of India can also receive grants, donations, and gifts for any of these purposes.