HCBA and model bye-laws
AFTER THE process had already taken off for holding the High Court Bar Association?s recently concluded election, Chandoo Tripathi, one of the contestants for the secretary?s post, filed a petition, seeking sanitisation of the electoral roll. A five-judge bench, which heard the petition, declined to interfere.india Updated: Mar 13, 2006 01:29 IST
AFTER THE process had already taken off for holding the High Court Bar Association’s recently concluded election, Chandoo Tripathi, one of the contestants for the secretary’s post, filed a petition, seeking sanitisation of the electoral roll. A five-judge bench, which heard the petition, declined to interfere.
“The court must allow the electoral process to go on first, and then, if proper, upset the election if ‘good grounds’ can be given,” observed the bench. And so, though he has lost the election, Chandoo Tripathi still has a serious cause to pursue in terms of the observation made by the bench about upsetting the election “if good grounds can be given”.
A fresh petition filed by him in the light of the five-judge bench observation, he says, could come up for initial hearing this week.
Before the said five-judge bench also figured the model bye-laws framed by the Bar Council of UP, which seek to cleanse the present polluted election process of Bar Associations of the State in order to make them truly fair and democratic, as well as in tune with the dignity of the legal profession.
CL Pandey, re-elected as the president of the High Court Bar Association (HCBA), had then told the bench that the High Court Bar Association’s new governing council,which would take office after the election, would take up the model bye-laws for consideration.
Meanwhile, the High Court’s Lucknow Bench has passed a significant interim order, which was referred to also by the five-judge bench here in its order.
The Lucknow bench, headed by Justice Jagdish Bhalla, has directed that a Bar Association, which does not adopt the model bye-laws will lose its affiliation with the Bar Council and its members will render themselves “liable to action for misconduct by the Bar Council in case they are found to have acted in violation of the model bye-laws”, even though such members’ conduct might be in strict conformity with the unamended rules of their Bar Association.
Some might grumble that the Bar Council seeks to curtail the autonomy of the Bar Associations and impose conditions which, ironically, do not operate against those who contest the Bar Council election, so the model bye-laws are anti-democratic. But hanging, like a Damocles’ sword, on the heads of Bar Associations and their members is the aforesaid order of the Lucknow Bench about the serious consequences to follow if the model bye-laws are not adopted.
Some district Bar Associations, including those in Varanasi and Etah, have already adopted the model bye-laws. So, the HCBA’s newly elected governing council’s first and foremost task is to take a decision, within the fast-approaching deadline fixed by the Bar Council, on whether to adopt or not to adopt the model bye-laws.
So far the little-known model bye-laws, framed by the UP Bar Council, provide, among others, for: the constitution of an elders’ committee for every association, consisting of some senior-most advocates of the court; restricting an advocate’s membership to ‘only one Bar Association’, backed up by his affidavit to that effect; giving the right to vote and participate in a general house meeting and Bar election only to an association’s ‘ordinary members’ who have paid dues and been ‘continuously’ a member of that association for ‘two’ years; forfeiture of membership on non-payment of dues for three months; restriction on those who can contest election for various posts—25 years’ practice for president’s office and 15 years’ practice for secretary’s post; barring those who have already held an office from contesting election next year, though they can re-contest after a gap of one year; and continuance of an elected team for one year only, or one month more with the approval of elders’ committee, within which a fresh election to be held, failing which elders’ committee will take over and hold election within the next one month.
Further, a Bar Association not adopting the model bye-laws will lose affiliation with Bar Council and also the grants available to it from the Council; and advocates who are members of an Association, not affiliated to the Bar Council, will lose the benefits of the Bar Council’s welfare schemes.
Good intentions. But attempts to bring about reforms in decadent democratic processes usually encounter roadblocks. Will it be any different at the High CourtBar Association?