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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a plea challenging Section 17 of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents & Senior Citizens Act, 2007, which prohibits representation by a legal practitioner in proceedings under the Act.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice Anup J Bhambhani has issued notice to the Central Government, the Bar Council of India and the Bar Council of Delhi, seeking their response in the plea.
The petition was preferred by Advocate Pawan Reley after a Delhi Maintenance Tribunal for Senior Citizens denied him the opportunity to represent his client by citing Section 17.
Filed through Advocates Reley and Yogesh Agarwal, the petition claims that Section 17 is unconstitutional in light of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India read with Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961.
“The fundamental right to practice any profession for an advocate in the form of making legal representation has been specifically denied under Section 17 of the Maintenance Act.”
It is submitted that the “unreasonable restriction” on legal representation is arbitrary and goes beyond the requirement of the interest of the general public. It is also submitted that there is no direct and proximate nexus between Section 17 and the object sought to be achieved by the Act.
“For placing a complete prohibition on any professional activity, there must exist some strong reason for the same with a view to attain some legitimate object and in case of non-imposition of such prohibition it may result in jeopardizing or seriously affecting the interest of the people in general. If it is not so, it would not be a reasonable restriction if placed on exercise of the right guaranteed under Article 19(l)(g).”
The petitioner further claims that certain provisions in the Act deal with ‘complex legal issues’ such as rights in immovable properties, fraud, coercion, undue influence, issuance of bailable and non-bailable warrants etc, which cannot be adjudicated upon without professional legal assistance.
“..the role of a legal practitioner becomes crucial where evidence has to be adduced, as under the provisions of the Maintenance Act, they no more remain simple proceedings of just determining maintenance… but deal with rights in immovable properties and declarations to nullify transfers.. These are ticklish legal issues for which any forum would require proper legal assistance.”
Stating that justice should not be only done, but seen to be done, the petitioner thus contends that the effect of Section 17 of the Maintenance Act ought to be nullified on account of it being violative of Article 19(1)(g).
The matter will next be heard on August 9, 2019.
Read the Petition: