Issues with Non-Practicing Advocates

 Any person who has obtained a degree in law, along with clearing the All India Bar Exam (AIBE), becomes entitled to practice as an Advocate. Out of many people who clear the AIBE, some choose to either join academics, corporate sector, or a government department (careers other than litigation). Such people may be referred to as non-practicing advocates. The question that this post endeavors to answer is that whether such persons who are not practicing actively are entitled to claim “experience” only on the ground of paying the Bar Association’s membership fees?

The answer to the above question becomes significant when we take a look at the eligibility criteria of various government appointed positions which require some (minimum) years of experience as an advocate. The problem is, even those advocates who have never even appeared before a Court sometimes take the advantage of not so strictly followed rules.

Let us analyze what BCI rules say about the right to be enrolled as Advocates with respective Bar Association

Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules-2014 & Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules, 2015 have introduced new provisions to deal with non-practicing Advocates. These Rules apply to advocates on the roll after June 12, 2010.

Rule 21.1 provides that –

  • The non-practicing advocates are also not entitled to cast their votes in elections to Bar Associations.
  • They shall cease to avail all other benefits and privileges as well.

Duty of State Bar Councils

  • Rule 20 of  Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules, 2015  requires that list of non-practicing advocates may be prepared by the State Bar Council. Rule 20.3 provides that copy of such list shall be circulated to Bar Council of India, all other State Bar Councils, all Courts within the territorial jurisdiction of that State Bar Council, concerned High Court, Supreme Court, and concerned District Bar Association/High Court Bar Association/Supreme Court Bar Association.
  • Rule 20.4 has provision for publication of such list in the prescribed manner.
  • Rule 23 requires updating of the Electoral rolls for the purpose of elections by the State Bar Councils, removing the names of non-practicing Advocates from it.

There should be transparency in the issuance of the certificate of experience to advocates – Perhaps an online accessible database could be made which would include the details of the advocates who have been issued the certificate – This would help safeguard the interest of genuine practicing advocates.

It is debatable how transparency may be maintained with regard to Electoral rolls and the benefits obtained vide them. Let all of us question ourselves – how things may be improved in this context.

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Bhumika Sharma

She is currently a Research Scholar, (PhD) at Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla. She finds peace in research and writing on a variety of social issues. She believes in the power of education and awareness to deal with various problems.

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