A city lawyer has won a seven-year-long battle against the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana (BCPH). The Supreme Court (SC) recently upheld the Punjab and Haryana high court’s decision of quashing the BCPH rule of not issuing fresh practice licence to those above the age of 45.
Virender Kumar Sachdeva, who left his job as general manager (finance) with a private firm in 2004 at the age of 42, had decided to change his career midway. He enrolled himself in a three-year law degree course at PU, but when he passed out in 2007, the BCPH did not issue him a licence to practice at the court as he was more than 45 years of age.
Sachdeva challenged the rule before the high court which quashed the BCPH order. Following this, the Bar issued him licence, but moved the SC challenging the high court order in 2008. The SC recently upheld the high court judgment.
The bench headed by chief justice of India HL Dattu passed the order on scores of petitions against the Bar Councils of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab and Haryana. The SC, while upholding the order, observed that this could not be done as a lot of people enrol themselves as lawyers after retirement and resignation from their earlier jobs.
Sachdeva had left his job with the private firm after working for 23 years to be a lawyer. After completing the course from PU in 2007, he was 45 years seven months old, thus the Bar refused him licence to practice. “The development is satisfying. I have been able to espouse a cause which did not only help me but lakhs of others as well,” Sachdeva commented on the development.
Sachdeva said the genesis of the issue goes back to 2005. The Bar Council of India had then directed the state Bar councils to frame rules over granting of licenses to lawyers and set an upper age limit of 45. Following this, the BCPH in 2006 set the upper age limit of 45 to grant practice licence.