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Lawyers verification: SC to pass order on elections to various State Bar Councils on Aug 23

Lawyers verification: SC to pass order on elections to various State Bar Councils on Aug 23

Murali Krishnan

After a hearing which lasted close to 45 minutes, the Supreme Court today reserved its order in the plea for holding elections to various State Bar Councils.

A Bench of Justices RK Agarwal and AM Sapre heard all parties, including Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Delhi and various State Bar Councils, before reserving its order.

The issue relating to holding of elections had cropped up in the petition challenging the validity of BCI (Certificate of Practice) Rules, 2015.

Various parties had contended that elections to Bar Council of Delhi was long overdue and the same was being put off to allow current office bearers to continue.

The Court had then passed orders to hold elections before August 31.

When the matter was taken up today, advocate R Balasubramanium, appearing for Bar Council of Delhi, contended that verification has been complete only with respect to 32,000 lawyers, and either the rest of the lawyers on roll had not applied for verification or the concerned university has not responded by certifying the veracity of the certificates.

He further submitted that around 10,000 lawyers who had sat for All India Bar Examination after 2012 were also verified.

“There are around 64,000 lawyers in Delhi. Based on which electoral roll should we hold the elections? Either we hold it based on 2009 electoral roll or we complete verification and prepare new rolls. If we go by only verified lawyers, we don’t want a situation tomorrow wherein the non-verified lawyers allege that the elections are null and void because they were not taken on electoral rolls.”

Subramanium also contended that there is a statutory requirement of 8 months time to be followed while holding elections.

The petitioners, however, argued that there was a clear direction by the Court to complete elections by August 31.

“They have become above this court. They are not complying with the directions to hold elections before August 31”  submitted one petitioner.

Manan Kumar Mishra, who appeared for BCI, told the court that the petitioners are sidetracking the main issue relating to validity of the impugned Rules.

“They are harping on elections. They are not dealing with the validity of the Rules. It is now all about elections, elections, elections. Whole purpose of the Rules is to hold fair elections”, he said.

He also sought permission to constitute a committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge to oversee the whole process of elections and verification.

The Bench proceeded to reserve its order and stated that its verdict will be delivered next week.

Earlier, a Bench of Justices PC Ghose and Rohinton Nariman was hearing the case. With Justice Ghose retiring from service, the matter has now gone before the new Bench of Justices Agarwal and Sapre.