The nation is talking elections. While the Lok Sabha polls may have hogged all the limelight, another significant election will be held on May 11.
To elect new office bearers, including the president and the secretary for the year 2009-10, the members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) will exercise their franchise on Monday.
Nine candidates are in fray for the president’s post. Former Additional Solicitor Generals Vikas Singh and K.T.S. Tulsi,
former SCBA President M.N. Krishnamani and senior advocates R.S. Suri and Anoop George Chaudhury are among the contestants.
The candidates addressed the members last Wednesday and presented their plan of action, which they would like to implement if elected. Tulsi told HT he wanted to improve the working condition of lawyers who have been completely ignored by the court planners.
Vikas Singh said besides improving the working conditions of lawyers, particularly the younger ones, he would like the SCBA to play a pivotal role in the affairs of the judiciary and the nation.
He said he would work for judicial transparency and the role of the bar in the process of judges’ appointment. The best talent could be picked up only if the bar associations were consulted by the collegiums, he said. Interestingly, the SCBA has had only 16 presidents in the last 58 years.
The great M.C. Setalvad held the post for a maximum 18 terms, followed by late R.K. Jain (six terms) and C.K. Daphtary, Dr L.M. Singhvi, A.K. Sen and incumbent president P.H. Parekh, who have held the post for four terms.
The rules were later changed to stop someone from holding the post for more than two consecutive terms. The SCBA has around 8,000 members but only about 4,000 of them are eligible to vote.
The rest cannot vote either for not having cleared the dues or due to the ‘one bar one vote’ policy, which requires members to declare they will not vote in any other bar association’s election.
Asked if it was possible to ensure the members adhered to the ‘one bar one vote’ policy, SCBA Election Committee convener and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said, “There is no way to ensure it, except to leave it to the conscience of the members concerned.”
On the allegation that advocates who don’t practise in the Supreme Court regularly vote in the SCBA elections, Ramachandran said, “The election committee does not have any role to play in this regard… It is for the SCBA to check and ensure that only those who regularly practice in the Supreme Court become SCBA members.”