The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Bar Council of India (BCI) resolution requiring Advocates-on-Record (AoRs) to get their professional credentials checked as part of an ongoing verification drive to weed out fake lawyers.
An advocate can become an AoR only after clearing a qualifying examination conducted by the SC and is entitled sign petitions and documents filed in the apex court.
The BCI – which regulates legal profession and education in India -- had done away with a clause that exempted AoRs from filling up a verification form under the BCI’s Certificate of Practice Rules, 2015.
AoRs opposed the BCI resolution mainly on the ground that they were made AoRs by the SC and their details were available on the top court’s website.
“No effect should be given to the (BCI) resolution. Let the matter be heard on June 30,” a vacation bench of justice PC Ghose and justice Amitava Roy said. It allowed the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association (SCAORA) to be a party to the ongoing proceedings on the issue.
The bench asked the BCI counsel as to how it was empowered to amend the rules framed under the law by simply passing a resolution. “Can you (BCI) amend the rules by way of a resolution?” it asked.
However, the bench left it to be decided after the summer vacation.
The BCI’s verification drive has been challenged in various high courts across the country. The SCAORA had on Thursday moved the SC seeking urgent hearing of its plea that its members should not be subjected to the BCI verification drive as their records were already with the court. It contended the BCI had a practice not to subject designated senior advocates and AoRs to verification.
It said designated senior advocates and AORs were earlier exempted from the verification process but the BCI had last year amended rules and brought AORs within the purview of verification.
Last year, the BCI amended its rules for verification process to weed out fake advocates among over 15 lakh practising lawyers in India. BCI Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules 2015 make it mandatory for all lawyers to register afresh in a new format where they have to compulsorily submit all educational certificates.