The recently amended Bar Council of India (BCI) Rules that prohibit criticism of the regulatory body as well as State Bar Councils across the country, have been challenged before the Bombay High Court (Amritpal Singh Khalsa v. Bar Council of India)..The petition filed by Mumbai lawyer, Amritpal Singh Khalsa said that the rules are "a direct attack on the independence of the bar".It further stated that the notification amending the Rules is "an assault on the fundamental right of the petitioner, more particularly freedom of speech, and exercise of such right in social media and the fundamental right of criticism".Khalsa submitted that the rules are an "attempt to smother the voice of the advocates, to reign terror under the garb of misconduct and to please the judges".Khalsa also compared the rules to the "draconian UAPA Act" which he claimed was quite frequently misused to "harass, suppress and smother" voice of dissent..The petition, therefore, contended that the amendment is violative of the Advocates Act, 1961 and Articles 14, 19(1) (c)and 21 of the Constitution. Khalsa, therefore, sought a stay on the operation of the rules and declare them unconstitutional and void.The petition additionally sought for an order of injunction against Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana from granting approval to the Rules. According to proviso to Section 49(1) of the Advocates Act, approval of the CJI is necessary before amendments to the BCI Rules can come into force..Khalsa claimed that by issuing the notification for amending the rules, BCI failed in its duty to protect the rights of the advocates. .He pointed out that a similar plea had already been filed before the Kerala High Court.When that case came up for hearing, the High Court was informed that the amendments were yet to be approved by CJI.The petition stated that pursuant to more such petitions being filed, BCI decided to review the rules pertaining to misconduct and accordingly on June 30, 2021 issued a press release that till the review committee submits its report, amendment in relation to the conduct of the advocates shall be kept in abeyance. .Following this, even the Bar Association of India passed a resolution expressing its concern about the "chilling effect on lawyers' public engagement and impinge on their right to freedom of speech and expression". .A similar challenge to the amended rules is pending before the Supreme Court. .The new amendments were notified in the gazette on June 25. It introduced two key changes to the BCI Rules - Sections V and V-A added to Part VI, Chapter II of the Rules..The amended rules lay down that a lawyer making any statement which is indecent or derogatory, defamatory, motivated, malicious, or mischievous against any court, judge, State Bar Council or the BCI, can be a ground for suspension or cancellation of licence to practice law..Further, criticising or attacking any decision of any State Bar Council or Bar Council of India on public domain will also amount to "misconduct", which could attract disqualification or suspension..The new rules also prevent members from publishing anything against any resolution or order of any State Bar Council or Bar Council of India or using abusive language towards the Bar Council, its office-bearers or members.