Breaking; Delhi HC directs Bar Associations to incorporate “One Bar, One Vote” and “One person One chamber” Principles in Rules [Read Judgment]

Breaking; Delhi HC directs Bar Associations to incorporate “One Bar, One Vote” and “One person One chamber” Principles in Rules [Read Judgment]

A Division Bench of Delhi High Court has directed to incorporate the one-bar, one vote principle forthwith in relation to every Bar Associations in Delhi (including the Delhi High Court Bar Association, the Delhi Bar Association, the New Delhi Bar Association, the Rohini, Shahdara, Saket and Dwarka Courts Bar Association and all other Court/Tribunals attached Bar Associations). The Court has also directed to incorporate “One person One chamber, One court complex only” principle in the rules applicable for allotment of Chambers to Advocates in all Delhi Court complexes (whose courts are subject to the administrative control of the Delhi High Court).

The High Court has delivered common judgment which disposed of four writ petitions that call for a decision of public importance involving the functioning of courts and their orderly conduct. All the petitions have a common theme, i.e. that the principle of one Advocate one vote in one Bar, should be introduced for all Bar Associations, irrespective of the multitude of memberships of an advocate in Delhi; secondly the petitioners sought directions for the introduction of the concept of one person one chamber, one court complex only, in the city of Delhi.

In one Petition the claim was that rules governing allotment of Chambers in various court complexes should be amended to restrict eligibility to one chamber in the entire territory of Delhi, for advocates, regardless of the number of bar associations they are members of (i.e. “one advocate, one chamber” principle); the second claim is that each advocate should be allowed only one voting right in regard to a bar association of which he is member, regardless of the number of such associations he chooses to belong to ( “one advocate, one vote” principle) and that directions should be issued to mandate that within the city of Delhi, all Bar Associations should hold elections not later than on expiration of two years‟ term. In another  Petition the claim was for directions to inter alia, ensure that only genuine practitioners are members of the bar associations attached to various courts in the city of Delhi, to safeguard that chambers are allotted to genuine practicing advocates and that the transfer of allotted chambers, is prohibited and discontinued. In the last Petition the claim was that the Bar Council of Delhi should ensure the introduction of the principle of" One Bar, One Vote" throughout all the Bar Associations in Delhi.

Allowing the Petitions Justices Ravindra Bhat and Sidharth Mridul has issued the following Directions;

(a)The following rule, incorporating the one-bar, one vote principle shall stand incorporated forthwith in relation to every Bar Association in Delhi (including the Delhi High Court Bar Association, the Delhi Bar Association, the New Delhi Bar Association, the Rohini, Shahdara, Saket and Dwarka Courts Bar Association and all other Court/Tribunals attached Bar Associations):

“A member who exercises her or his right to vote in any year in the High Court or a District Court Advocate‟s/Bar Association election shall not be eligible to contest for any post - either as member of the executive or of an office Bearer of any other Association or to cast her or his vote at the election. Every member before casting his vote shall in the prescribed form furnish a „Declaration‟ that she/he has not voted and is not voting in any other election of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Delhi High Court Bar Associations, any other District Court Bar Association, and has not done so in the past one year. Provided, however, that if such a declaration is found to be false, it shall entail automatic suspension of the member giving such false declaration from membership of the Association for a period of three years. Based on the declaration of members, the Bar Association shall prepare, a list of voters. Only the members whose names are included as the final voters- after excluding those who had voted in elections of any other Bar Association in that year or the previous year, shall be entitled to vote, contest, propose and second any candidate in the Bar Association Election.” Explanation (1) The term “any other Bar Association” means any Bar Association of which the voting or contesting member is a member of other than the one in which she or he is seeking to cast his or her vote, and/or contest for any elective post. Explanation (2) “office bearer” “member of executive committee” and “elective post” mean any position to which if the member is elected, would entail exercising decision making powers either in the capacity as holder of the post, (such as President, Secretary etc.) or as part of a collective body by whatever name called (such as executive committee, governing committee or council, etc.). Explanation (3) “Declaration” means a declaration in the following form: I….(State name, and full description, i.e., parentage, age, particulars of Bar Council enrolment, and membership of the Bar Association of the Court complex where chamber allotment is sought) do hereby solemnly declare and affirm that I have not voted for and/or am not contesting for any elective post, in any other Bar Association of which I am also a member in the last one year and that I will not do so in any election during this year in such Bar Association. In case this declaration is detected to be false, my right to vote shall remain suspended for three years after such declaration is detected to be false.”

The above condition shall be deemed to be incorporated in the conditions of eligibility applicable for voting as well as candidature for the post of member of any executive body (by whatever name called) and every office bearer of each association (President, Vice President, General or Honorary Secretary, Assistant, Joint Secretary, Treasurer, Asst. Treasurer, or any other office bearer of each association by whatever other name called) immediately and shall be given effect to in every election to each Bar Association hereafter. This condition shall remain in force and bind all Bar Associations as condition for their recognition

(b) The following rule shall stand incorporated in the rules applicable for allotment of Chambers to Advocates in all Delhi Court complexes (whose courts are subject to the administrative control of the Delhi High Court):

“No Advocate who has been allotted a chamber in any other Court complex, or has constructed or owns any chamber in the Tis Hazari or New Delhi Court complex, or has applied for any chamber in any of the said other court complex shall be eligible for allotment of a chamber. Each applicant shall also furnish a declaration that she or he has not applied for any, or has not been allotted any chamber in any other Court complex. Any false declaration shall entail cancellation of chamber allotment, or removal of the name from list of eligible applicants. All Advocates, whose names have been included in existing lists of otherwise eligible candidates/applicants and who await allotment, too, shall furnish a declaration within 60 days failing which their names shall not be considered for any allotment. In case the declaration furnished is false, their names shall be struck off the list of eligible applicants. Explanation: the expression “any other Court complex” shall mean that if the applicant/Advocate is allotted a chamber in one complex-e.g. the Saket Court complex, she or he shall be ineligible to apply for allotment of chamber in the Delhi High Court Lawyers chambers or any other District Court complexes (Karkardooma, Tis Hazari, New Delhi Courts, Rohini, Dwarka, etc and any other Court complex to be constructed with lawyers chambers, hereafter). Form of Declaration: I….(State name, and full description, i.e parentage, age, particulars of Bar Council enrolment, and membership of the Bar Association of the Court complex where chamber allotment is sought) do hereby solemnly declare and affirm that I am not allottee of any chamber in any Court complex other than the one in which I hereby seek; I also affirm and declare that I shall not apply for allotment of any chamber in any Court complex.”

The above conditions shall be deemed to have been incorporated with immediate effect. The concerned District Judge of each Court complex and the Registrar concerned of the Delhi High Court are hereby directed to ensure that the above conditions are suitably incorporated in the Chamber Allotment Rules, within two weeks. Till then, the above conditions are applicable and would govern all allotments of chambers".

Read the Judgment here.