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Delhi High Court seeks response of Centre, BCI in plea to declare bar association rules null and void

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The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Centre, the Bar Council of India, Delhi & Ors in a plea seeking directions to declare Bar Associations (Constitution, Recognition and Conduct of Election) Rules, 2019 framed by the Bar Council of Delhi, as approved by the Bar Council of India, as null and void being ultra-vires and consequently, declare the Central Delhi Court Bar Association as illegal and unconstitutional.

The Court has issued notice to Ministry of Law and Justice, Bar Council of India, Bar Council of Delhi, Rouse Avenue District Court Bar Association, Central Delhi Court Bar Association and Registrar of Societies.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rekha Palli was hearing a plea filed by 7 advocates practicing in various district courts of Delhi, seeking directions to declare the Bar Associations (Constitution, Recognition and Conduct of Election) Rules, 2019 framed by Bar Council of Delhi as approved by Bar Council of India, as null and void being ultra-vires the Advocates Act, 1961, the Advocates Welfare Funds Act, 2001 and Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India, furthermore, directions to declare the Central Delhi Court Bar Association constituted by Bar Council of Delhi, as illegal and unconstitutional.

Rules contrary to Article 19(1)(c) of Constitution, says plea

The plea has contended that Bar Council of Delhi has illegally formed a Bar Association at the Rouse Avenue Court Complex taking advantage of the impugned Rules and is proceeding under the same to hold elections bypassing all cannons of law and affecting the independence of Advocates as Citizens of India to come together and form a Bar Association. Further it has alleged that, “the Bar Council of India has erroneously approved the impugned rules and the Bar Council of India by taking subscriptions from unsuspecting Advocates is trying to make it fait accompli.” The plea has stated, “that the impugned rules are Contrary to Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India which confers power to only citizens and not incorporated and statutory bodies to form Associations.” 

According to petition, Bar Council of India derives its powers from Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961, whereas, Bar Council of Delhi derives its power from Section 6 of the aforementioned Act, furthermore, Section 15 & 28 of the said act, empowers a State Bar Council to make rules to carry out the purpose of Chapter-II and Chapter-III of the said Act.

The petition avers that, Sections 16 & 17 of the Advocates Welfare Fund Act, 2001 give limited powers to Bar Council of Delhi. The Bar Council of Delhi in W.P (C): 3713/2019 “Rouse Avenue Bar Association v. Bar Council of Delhi” had obtained a stay on March 15, 2021, by Delhi High Court, as ad hoc Committee appointed by the Bar Council of Delhi was taking steps for holding the elections to the Bar Association at the Rouse Avenue Court Complex.

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The petition further avers that Bar Council of Delhi claims to derive its power from Rule 3 of Bar Associations (Constitution, Recognition and Conduct of Election) Rules, 2019, whereby, it has appointed an Ad hoc Committee to deal with the day-to-day problems of the members at the Rouse Avenue Court and to represent the lawyers before the concerned authorities.

The petition goes on to claim, Bar Associations (Constitution, Recognition and Conduct of Election) Rules, 2019 are ultra-vires the Constitution of India, Advocates Act and Advocates Welfare Funds Act, furthermore, resolution dated November 20, 2020 and the Order dated March 15, 2021 in C.M Application 8881/2021 in W.P (C): 3713/2019 are liable to be set aside, to the extent of assigning the affairs of Bar Association to be conducted by the Ad-hoc Committee appointed by Bar Council of Delhi, empowering Ad-hoc Committee to scrutinize members of the Bar Associations as also to invite fresh applications in accordance with the rules.

The petition has been filed by Advocates Lalit Sharma, Dinesh Kumar, Prem Shankar Singh, Sagar Anand, Shannu Baghel, Omkar Singh and Disha Kumari. The next hearing is on October 28.

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