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The Supreme Court of India has made it clear that the deadline given to various State bar councils across the country to complete verification of lawyers will not be extended beyond September 30 this year.
PC Ghose and Amitava Roy JJ also directed that impending elections at state bar councils should be held irrespective of whether the verification of lawyers is completed by September 30 or not.
The order was passed in an interim application filed by petitioner Ajayinder Sangwan contending that the elections to the Bar Council of Delhi have been due since 2014. The petitioner’s counsel, Senior Advocate Debal Kumar Banerjee averred that,
“Bar Council of Delhi has now filed two affidavits contending that they have to collect a lot of certificates and computerise them and so on. From the tenor of this affidavit, it seems that they will seek an extension of deadline again.
We have prayed that a direction should be issued to conduct elections by October-November. Elections should not be extended again.”
Advocate R Balasubramanian, appearing for Bar Council of Delhi, submitted that an impression is being created that they were delaying the elections.
“We want to dispel [this] impression. We have around 54,000 lawyers. Verifying their education certificates take time. A meaningful verification of education certificates will take at least 6 months.
We will comply with the September 30 deadline except for verification of education certificates which might take some more time.”
The Court, however, made it clear that it will not extend the deadline. It also held that irrespective of whether the verification is complete or not, bar councils will have to take steps to hold elections where it is due or where the office bearers, though their term is over, are continuing in office.
“We reiterate that the date which has already been fixed by this Court, i.e. 30th September, 2016, should be taken as the final date for taking all steps by the Bar Councils of all the States to complete the process as ordered.
We are making it very clear that if it is not done by that date, the pendency of this matter before this Court would not stand in the way to hold elections, where it is due or where the office bearers, though their term is over, are continuing in office and to be specific, steps in this regard, to hold such election would then have to be taken”, the court said in its order.
In fact, on June 30 the court had granted another three months to complete the verification process. The challenge to the CoP Rules would now be heard on a non-miscellaneous day while the status reports regarding verification process will be considered by the Court on September 30.
Read the order below.