The Supreme Court has directed the Bar Council of India to file a detailed reply on a contempt plea alleging disobedience of its order asking state bar bodies to decide complaints against lawyers within a year.
A bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna said mere issuance of the circular and/or sending the intimation is not enough.
”The Bar Council of India is required to see that the directions issued by this Court are truly and fully complied with by the Bar Council of India as well as all the State Bar Council/s.
”Let the Bar Council of India file a detailed report on the compliance of our directions issued by this Court. Such a report to be filed on or before July 14,” the bench said.
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Advocate Radhika Gautam submitted that after the aforesaid judgment and order and the directions issued by this Court, the Bar Council of India had issued a circular to all state bar councils on December 27, 2021.
The top court on December 7 last year directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to issue directions to state bar councils to dispose of the complaints against lawyers received under Section 35 of the Advocates Act within a year.
The top court had further directed the BCI to dispose of the transferred complaints within a period of one year from the date of receipt of such complaints.
It had said complaints should be transferred from the state to BCI only in exceptional cases with valid reasons.
”We direct the Bar Council of India to finally dispose of the transferred complaints, the particulars of which are referred to hereinabove expeditiously but not later than one year from today and for which even the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India may hold circuit hearings.
”We also direct the respective State Bar Councils to decide and dispose of the complaint(s) received by it under Section 35 expeditiously and to conclude the same within a period of one year from the date of receipt of the complaint as mandated under Section 36B of the Advocates Act,” the bench had said.
The top court had said under the Advocates Act, a duty is cast upon the BCI and state bar councils to safeguard the integrity of the legal profession.
”The powers to conduct disciplinary proceedings against members of the Bar are provided under Sections 35 and 36B of the Advocates Act. The mandate is to dispose of the complaint received under Section 35 and/or Section 36 within a period of one year from the date of receipt of the said complaint and/or from the date of such proceeding to the Bar Council of India.
”By not disposing of the complaint within the stipulated time provided under the Act would tantamount to failure on their part to perform the duty cast under the Advocates Act,” the bench had said.
The court had said that having regard to the fact that 1,246 complaints are pending before the BCI, it is just and necessary that a mechanism be found for disposal of the said complaints in accordance with the procedure prescribed.
”For an efficient and quick disposal of the complaints by the Bar Council of India, BCI may consider impaneling experienced and seasoned advocates and/or retired judicial officers to act as inquiry officers where an inquiry would be necessitated.
”On such an inquiry being concluded the report of the inquiry officers could be received by the Bar Council of India. On consideration of the said inquiry report, the Bar Council of India could pass appropriate orders on the complaint,” the bench had said.
The judgment came on an appeal filed against the order passed by the disciplinary committee of the BCI by which the committee had dismissed the complaint filed by the appellant against his advocate.
The appellant had filed the complaint case against his advocate on the ground of professional misconduct.