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Supreme Court issues notice to UP Bar Council on plea challenging enrolment fee for lawyers

The Supreme Court issued notice to the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh on a petition challenging high fees for enrolment as a lawyer. 

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra sought the response of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh and listed the plea for hearing after two weeks.

The petitioner, who is a 2023 graduate of Banaras Hindu University’s Faculty of Law, asserted that he has to pay enrolment fees of Rs 16,665  with an additional Rs 5000 charge for expedited processing within a day. 

Responding to Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud’s query on what fees would be reasonable, the petitioner stated that only Rs 750 should be charged in accordance with the Advocates Act. Consecutively, the Supreme Court issued notice and listed the matter for hearing in two weeks. 

Last year in July, the apex court had transferred to itself petitions pending before several High Court challenging the enrolment fees levied by different State Bar Councils. The judgement was passed on a petition moved by the Bar Council of India (BCI) to transfer all such cases to the top court. 

In the transfer petition, the Bar Council of India had pointed out that there were cases before the Kerala High Court, Madras High Court and Bombay High Court on the issue. The BCI had mentioned that the petitions before the High Courts deal with the same questions of law relating to the constitutional validity of fees chargeable at the time of enrolment. 

It further stressed that transferring the petitions would prevent the wastage of judicial time and that the matter could be authoritatively decided by the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the Telangana High Court in November, 2023, issued notice on a similar plea related to the Bar Council for the State of Telangana (BCST) which charges Rs 27,500 as enrolment fees. 

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