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Lawyers oppose law panel's plan to discipline them

Lawyers have reacted strongly to the law commission’s expected move to suggest nominating unelected experts to a disciplinary body to rein in errant attorneys.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2017 22:56 IST
Jatin Gandhi
Jatin Gandhi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Law Commission,Law Ministry,Supreme Court
A report of the Law Commission which is set to submit its a report to the Law Ministry with suggestions to discipline errant lawyers has raised the hackles of attorneys. The Supreme Court had last year asked the commission to suggest changes to the Advocates Act.(REUTERS)

Lawyers are up in arms against the Law Commision of India’s proposed move to suggest nominating unelected experts to the current disciplinary action framework against them. The law panel feels the disciplinary committees managed by the bar councils are inadequate, sources said.

The Bar Council of India has asked of state bar councils to call emergency meetings to discuss the issue and prepare for an agitation. HT had reported the law commission’s proposed move last Saturday.

“We strongly oppose this move. Advocates will not tolerate outsiders deciding what constitutes indiscipline,” BCI chief Manan Kumar Mishra told HT. Mishra said the BCI had already taken a strong view on strikes and suspension of work by lawyers. “We are the ones who wrote to the commission saying strikes will be treated as illegal and should be treated as misconduct.”

The recommendation was part of the measures suggested by the BCI to the law panel in an exhaustive report. Ironically, the BCI’s recommendation has upset lawyers too. Last year, it had suspended 126 lawyers in Tamil Nadu for striking work.

“The BCI should first clarify its stance on lawyers’ strikes,” Delhi high court bar association president Kirti Uppal said. “Lawyers have a right to go on strike to protect the independence and dignity of the bar.” Uppal accused the BCI of not taking stakeholders into confidence before compiling its report to the law panel.

The Supreme Court had asked the commission last year to suggest changes to the existing Advocates Act that governs lawyers and legal practice in India, particularly in the context of disciplining errant lawyers. The law commission’s report is expected to be submitted to the law ministry this week, its chairman Justice BS Chauhan told HT.

“The commission’s recommendations are largely based on the BCI’s own report. We will make suggestions that are in concurrence with the Supreme Court’s reference to the commission,” he said.

First Published: Mar 22, 2017 14:42 IST