Bar Council Elections: Post Madras HC Judgment, BCI Issues Guidelines For Returning Officers

Bar Council Elections: Post Madras HC Judgment, BCI Issues Guidelines For Returning Officers

The Bar Council of India, on Thursday, issued guidelines for Returning Officers, in wake of the recent order passed by Madras High Court, wherein the Court had issued a slew of directions aimed at ensuring free and fair conduct of elections to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

In an order issued on 16 February, the High Court had observed that the ensuing elections to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are more glorified for use of money power, communal power, political power, muscle power and liquor power. It had then set out directions for the Bar Council of India, the police and the Income Tax Department to ensure fake lawyers or those indulging in corruption to win elections can be weeded out.

However, even though the Madras High Court order has been stayed by the Apex Court, which thought that the order was "moralistic", the Council has now issued the following directions, in a letter addressed to the Secretaries of all State Bar Councils:

  1.  In all those state Bar Councils where the Returning Officers are not former Hon'ble Judges of High Courts, one former Judge of High Court should be appointed as an Observer to look after the overall conduct of elections and to issue appropriate directions to R.O./A.R.Os.

  2. There shall be no change in the electoral roll without seeking prior approval of the Concerned Election Tribunal constituted by BCI or the person duly authorized by such Tribunal.

  3. Since in almost all the States where elections are to be held, the Special Committees are functioning we would to request the Chief Justices of concerned High Courts to write to the District Magistrates/ Sub Divisional officers/ Magistrates to provide proper protection to the polling teams in/while carrying the ballot boxes/ papers and also at all polling booths.. Proper police Escorts for polling teams/concerned authorized personnel/s in/while carrying ballot boxes/papers and adequate police force at polling booths are both a necessity and hence may be requested and ensured to be provided at all costs.

  4. The Counting teams should be from some other States and should not belong to the same state.

  5. The Counting halls should be equipped with C.C.T.V. cameras and the strong room should be opened and closed with the seal bearing signatures of Observer, R.O. and all the A.R.Os.

  6. All the decisions with regard to election affairs and counting shall bear the signatures of R.O., and of all the A.O.Rs and it shall be final only after getting a note of satisfaction from the Observer.

  7. Any and every decision taken by Special Committee/s of the concerned State Bar Council/s/R.O. with regard to election or counting shall require the approval of the concerned Election Tribunal constituted by BCI and approved by the Hon'ble Apex court or of any person duly authorized by such Election Tribunal.

  8. If any candidate is found to be involved in any sort of mal-practice or use of unfair means (throwing lunches dinners, parties, bribing voters for seeking their votes), their candidatures shall be cancelled by the Observer or by the Tribunal. Any Advocate or any citizen can bring such malpractice or use of unfair means to the notice of the Observer or the Tribunal or the R.O. with substantial proof/ The observer or the Tribunal may cancel the candidature if satisfied of/by such complaint/s.

  9. The use of Hoardings, Posters and banners is/are strictly prohibited for electioneering. If any such complaint is brought to the notice of the Tribunal or the Observer, the candidature of such candidates shall be cancelled. If such complaints are brought to the notice of R.O./A.R.Os, they shall bring it to the notice of the Tribunal immediately for appropriate directions."

Read the Guidelines Here