A drive led by the Bar Council of India (BCI) to verify lawyers and weed out fake ones seems to have hit a roadblock.
The Supreme Court was informed on Monday that universities were demanding fees for verifying certificates sent to them, making it financially unviable for the state bar councils that have been entrusted with the task to send the documents to colleges.
The Delhi Bar Council (DBC), which hears complaints against lawyers in the national capital, made the complaint before a bench of Justice PC Ghose and Justice RF Nariman, which has called for attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to resolve the issue. It fixed February 3 to hear him.
“Let us call him and see if the Centre can offer help,” the bench said, when senior advocate KK Venugopal, on behalf of the BCI, advised the court to seek the government’s assistance.
Universities are governed as per norms laid down by the University Grants Commission (UGC), an autonomous body.
The UGC had last month written to the universities to assist the state bar councils in the verification drive. It had given liberty to the institutions to request bar councils for fees, if it was required.
Venugopal said the verification drive was initiated after the BCI received large-scale complaints of fake law degrees. “Ousting them is to improve the system. I am sure the Centre would assist us in this,” he said.
DBC counsel Balakrishnan said the body would have to foot a bill of around Rs 4 crore as each university was asking for a fixed price. “We are not charging the lawyers for this,” he told the Supreme Court.
According to the BCI, there are 1.3 million lawyers in India and all of them need to get their certificates verified or else their names would be struck out of the rolls.
The malaise prevailing in the profession came to the surface when a complaint in 2015 led to the ouster of Delhi law minister Jitender Singh Tomar.