In an appeal to the legal fraternity, Chairman of the Bar Council of India Mr. Manan Kumar Mishra has sought “moral support of the entire legal fraternity” to thwart attempts to “scandalize the Institution”.
The release encourages all lawyers to come together to support the institution and the system, stating, “Your silence on such a crucial issue is encouraging the elements and people with vested interests. Your keeping mum is proving harmful for the health of the Institution.”
Earlier this week, LiveLaw had published an article titled “When the Bar Council of India ceases to be truly representative”, wherein Advocate Manu Sebastian had lent his support to the voices against BCI’s current functioning.
Mr. Sebastian had highlighted the fact that the elections to at least fifteen State Bar Councils have been put on hold for more than two years and that they are being run by nominated members as opposed to elected members.
He had, further, condemned BCI’s response to Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, writing, “The BCI is not just undemocratic in form, but in action as well, as revealed from its response to Mr. Dushyant Dave. The press release by the BCI to the media is bizarrely worded, belying a knee-jerk response in a manner not behoving well for a body claiming to be representing advocates.”
Justifying remarks against Dushyant Dave
The release takes a jibe at Mr. Dave for his remarks against CJI Dipak Misra and states, “Raising a finger against anybody’s integrity is very easy. One should carefully listen to the statements made by Mr. Dushyant Dave on NDTV last Wednesday.
It is very easy to make any sort of comment against anybody; we have freedom of speech and expression: But what the society expects from a senior Advocate or Lawyers is something different. Issuing derogatory statements against the Highest Judiciary of the country without any basis should not be allowed to be a fashion.”
The BCI claims to have “verified” that the decision to transfer Justice Patel was taken unanimously by the Collegium and boasts of support from 99% “sincere Advocates of the country” against “irresponsible and reckless behavior/conduct”.
“I meet hundred of Lawyers every day, in Supreme Court itself, I have been trying to seek the opinion of my young friends and senior colleagues on this issue. Though a few of them do not want to speak openly; but the truth is that 99% of the sincere Lawyers of Supreme Court and 99% of common and sincere Advocates of the country are totally opposed to such irresponsible and reckless behavior/conduct. Everyone says it to be unfortunate and such things should not be tolerated, the Bar Council should come forward to stop these sorts of nuisances,” the release states.
No right to “defame” anyone
The release condemns the comments made by lawyers against Judges, stating, “We may have a right to comment or criticize a judgment/order, but we have no right to publicly defame, humiliate or abuse anybody leave aside a judge/judges. The decorum has to be maintained.
However, as can be seen nowadays, we find that 2-3 Advocates of Supreme Court are in a habit of uttering anything in court or outside without any logic, rhyme or reason: How far is such conduct justified is an introspection we have to do ourselves? Such conduct is badly harming the Institution and the Legal Fraternity would be the ultimate sufferer.”
Mr. Mishra also highlights the “nuisance values” established by some lawyers by issuing comments against Judges and writes, “If we are on a T.V. screen or before a media channel, it is our moral and legal obligation to be more cautious because lakhs and lakhs people throughout the world witness/watch what we state and this becomes the topic of discussion and debate. If we ourselves, being a very vital cog of the legal fraternity denounce any judge/s only and only due to any verdict/decision given by them, the same is not conducive towards maintaining the dignity of the profession and/or the decorum of the legal and judicial system. The dignity and decorum of the Institution is supreme, and this has to be maintained and upheld at all costs. This has to be kept in mind.”
Solidarity with those demanding transparency
The release clarifies BCI’s unanimous view on the following issues:
“(i) Bar should be bold and fearless, and whenever Bar Council of India has felt that the Judiciary is going against the interest of the Bar without any rhyme or reason, we have raised our voice, but in a decent manner befitting to our status as the officers of the Court. Our first and foremost duty is to safeguard the rights, interests and privileges of Lawyers.
(ii) We have been telling openly that the proceedings of collegiums must be transparent and unless the Leaders of the Bar are involved in the process of appointment of Judges, there shall always be scope for criticism and the decision can’t be perfect. We have criticized the remarks of Supreme Court in Mahipal Singh Rana’s case openly and all the State Bar Councils resolved to lodge the protest by way of filing I.As in that case.
(iii) Bar Council of India is of the clear opinion that there should be a uniform policy of Transfer of Judges of High Courts. Within one month of their elevation/Appointments, the Judges should be transferred to some other State and no Judge should be allowed to remain a judge in his home State, in the interest of fair-play and justice.”
Delay in election/position of Bar Council of India
The release goes on to address the concerns raised by several lawyers over the delay in elections of the State Bar Councils.
Hoping to shut down any adverse comments on the process, the release states, “The elections of all the State Bar Councils are to be held in next few months. The process is being monitored by a Central Verification Committee headed by a former Hon’ble Judge of Supreme Court. This Committee was constituted by the order of Hon’ble apex Court. Therefore, any comment on this matter is unwarranted and is being made with an intent to mislead the Lawyers in order to divert their attention from the main issue.”