New BCI Rules released: Mandates renewal of licence every 5 years; restricts fresh advocates from practicing in SC

New BCI Rules released: Mandates renewal of licence every 5 years; restricts fresh advocates from practicing in SC

The new Certificate of Practice and Renewal Rules, 2014, as released by the Bar Council of India, disallow fresh lawyers from practicing in the Supreme Court. According to these rules, they will have to spend two years in a trial court and three years in High Court before they become eligible to practice in the Supreme Court.

Addressing several issues which have put the legal profession under a cloud, the Statement of objects and reasons of the Rules states, “In the Joint Meeting of the representatives of all State Bar Councils and Bar Council of India, concerns were raised by all that trend of Advocates switching over to other professions/services/business without any information to the State Bar Council has reached alarming proportions. This trend is endangering the legal profession as a whole. It has also made a dent in its sanctity and standards. Names of such advocates continue to be included in the “Roll of advocates” being maintained by the State Bar Councils, notwithstanding the fact that they have left the legal profession or have since died.”

“Various welfare schemes for advocates have been floated in India both under State Legislations as well as under various welfare schemes framed by different State Bar Councils and by Bar Council of India but benefits there-under are being enjoyed by those also who have left the profession. There is also an urgent need for laying down some conditions for practicing law in different Courts so as to give due weightage and credence to experience. Before an advocate could practice law in higher Courts, there is need that he is exposed to real court experience in lower Courts/trial Courts. This will help in integrating the whole judicial system from the perspective of the Bar”, it adds.

Within six months of 29 October 2014 (the date of the notification), under Rule 8 all advocates who graduated before 2010 must get a certificate of practice from the BCI, which will cost Rs 500 (Rs 400 to the respective state bar council and Rs 100 to the BCI).

Additionally, the new Rules restrict license to practice law only for five years, after which it may be renewed after a review. The application for such renewal has to be filed six months in advance, before the validity period of the “Certificate of Practice” expires.

In order to practice before the High Court, the advocate should’ve practiced in the Sessions Court or District Court, for a minimum period of 2 years. [Chapter III]

According to the rules, every application for issuance/renewal of certificate of practice so received will be scrutinized by the Office within a period of one month from the date of receipt and if found in order, it will be placed along with the personal file of the applicant before the Administrative Committee, for passing the requisite order allowing or dismissing the application.

Such application is liable to be dismissed only in case it is found that the advocate has left law practice and that he/she has no bona fide intent and interest in continuing it in future also and such an advocate will be treated as a non-practicing advocate. No adverse order can be passed under this rule unless a reasonable opportunity of being heard is afforded to the applicant.

In case an advocate fails to make an application for issuance/renewal of Certificate of Practice within the prescribed period, it will, prima facie, be presumed that such an advocate has left law practice and that he/she has no bona fide intent and interest in continuing it in future also.

In case an advocate leaves one Bar Association and joins another, such change will have to be intimated to the Bar Council of which he becomes a member, within a period of one month.

The State Bar Council is also asked to prepare a “List of Defaulting Advocates”. From the date of publication of the list of non-practicing advocates, all such advocates whose names have been included in the list, will not be entitled to appear in any Court of Law, before any Tribunal or person legally authorized to take evidence, notwithstanding the fact that names of such advocates are entered in the State Roll and that they are holding certificate of enrolment under section 22 of the Advocates Act.

State Bar Councils are restricted from undertaking preparation of electoral roll of conduction of elections to State Bar Councils unless the process of identification of non-practicing advocates is completed under these Rules by publication of their names.

However, where a special committee is already functioning on the date of commencement of these rules, they will continue functioning as if these rules have not been enforced. In such State Bar Councils, these Rules will come into force only after the new State Bar Council is constituted on the declaration/publication of the results of the elections.

Also, any Certificate of Practice granted by any State Bar Council and any other action/order passed by the State Bar Council in this connection, before the enforcement of these Rules, will continue to be valid for a period of five years from the date of its issuance/renewal. However, on the expiry of this period, such certificate/license issued by the State Bar Council is required to be renewed under the new Rules.

Read the Rules here.