Friday, June 2, 2023

Supreme Court gives ultimatum to Bar Council of India to dispose of complaints against lawyers within 3 months

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Coming down heavily on the Bar Council of India over pendency of complaints, the Supreme Court has directed BCI to either dispose of or transfer all the complaints it received against Advocates before December 31 this year, so as to maintain the faith of the litigants over the justice delivery system and the profession itself.

The Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Krishna Murari passed the order on September 28, on a contempt petition filed in connection with its verdict of December 17 last year, in which the Apex Court, while taking into consideration Sections 35 and 36B of the Advocates Act, had directed BCI to issue appropriate directions to the concerned state Bar Councils to decide and dispose off the complaints within a period of one year from their date of receipt.

In case of failure to dispose of the same within a period of one year, all such complaints will be transferred to BCI for final decision, the Apex Court had ruled in 2021.

Flaying Senior Advocate and BCI Chairman Manan Mishra for cases pending for more than four years with the Council, the Bench told him to “do whatever,” but maintain the discipline and purity of the profession.

As per the Apex Court, if somebody had committed misconduct, he should be punished. If he had not done anything, he should be exonerated, but there should not be piling of cases. 

Mishra gave the example of the UP Bar Council, which worked at a slow pace and many orders were passed against them in the past over the same.

The Bench then noted that BCI was free to appoint and manage as many Enquiry Officers as it wanted, for expediting the justice delivery system.    

On the BCI chief’s suggestion of holding circuit benches in state bar councils for early disposal of complaints, the top court of the country said that BCI was the disciplinary authority of the country and the onus to clear the pendency was on its shoulders.

Regarding the state Bar Councils not transferring cases pending for more than a year to BCI, the Bench directed them to follow its previous orders and transfer one-year-old complaints to the Bar Council of India at the earliest. 

Case Title: Charanjeet Singh Chnderpal vs Vasant D. Salunkhe and Ors.

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