Advocates cannot practice in the Supreme Court unless they have at least five years of experience conducting trials in lower and the high court, the Bar Council of India (BCI) has said in a new set of rules issued this year.
According to the new Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules, 2014 — issued by the BCI on October 30 — an advocate must practice for at least two years in a trial court and three years in a high court before being allowed to allowed to argue in the Supreme Court. If implemented, thousands of young lawyers will be debarred from practicing in the country’s highest court.
BCI president Manan Kr Misra, told HT, “The new rules are aimed at enhancing the dignity and standards of the legal profession. Whom to allow to practise is solely in BCI’s jurisdiction”. Misra added, “We have not yet implemented the rule. We are calling a joint meeting of BCI and State Bar councils to take a decision.”
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi said, “In terms of the spirit, this is not wrong. Youngsters must learn the ropes from lower and high court and only then will understand how courts function, how to address it, the mannerism and procedures.” However, he wonders, “Does the BCI has power to do that? It may legally dubious. Under the Advocates Act — the statute governing legal practitioners in India — there’s no such bar.”
The new rules will restrict licenses to practice law in Supreme Court to those who have been practising law only for five years. After that time period, the licenses will be reviewed before renewal.
‘No age bar for lawyers’
There will be no age bar for enrolling lawyers, with the Supreme Court Tuesday stating that a state bar council cannot refuse to register law graduates of 45 years and above.
A bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu dismissed a batch of appeals that wanted the top court to uphold their regulation prescribing an age-limit to enroll lawyers, saying the rule would take away the opportunity to genuine people who want to join the legal profession and practice.