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After the passage of resolution to this end on Sunday, the Bar Council of Gujarat has forwarded the resolution to the Bar Council of India (BCI) for approval.
In a bid to aid lawyers facing financial hardships owing to the slump in courtwork amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bar Council of Gujarat has passed a resolution to lift the bar on practising lawyers from taking up any other employment until December 31, 2020.
After its passage on Sunday, the Bar Council of Gujarat has forwarded the resolution to the Bar Council of India (BCI) for approval.
Rules 47 to 52 of the Bar Council of India Rules prohibit practicing advocates from taking up any other form of salaried employment. Section 35 of the Advocates' Act, 1961 penalises any such advocate found to be gainfully employed in another job.
However, with nearly 75,000 lawyers facing difficulties following the suspension of regular court functioning amid the pandemic, and given their ensuing difficulties to earn their livelihood and take care of their families, the Bar Council of Gujarat has now urged the BCI to relax these rules.
To this end, it has been unanimously resolved to permit lawyers registered with the Bar Council of Gujarat to do any job or business for economic sustainment, provided that the same should be such that the respect of legal profession is maintained.
As such, it was resolved that such lawyers be exempted from the operation of Section 35 of the Advocates' Act (dealing with punishment for misconduct) until December 31, 2020.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, the Chairman of the Bar Council of Gujarat noted that this is the first time a State Bar Council in India has brought forth such an initiative. However, he emphasized that its implementation would be subject to the BCI’s approval.
Patel also informed that over Rs 5.35 crores has been disbursed as financial aid so far to about 11,000 advocates who were in need of the same due to the COVID-19 crisis.