The Bar Council of India (BCI) has expressed strong discontent over the move of the Government to bring Advocates within the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act.
Expressing dissatisfaction on behalf of the legal fraternity, BCI conveyed "deep anguish" and "resentment" to Ram Vilas Paswan, Minister of Consumer Affairs in a letter dated March 11, 2020, stating that advocates would be forced to come on road and protest, if the controversial proposal is not withdrawn.
Following suit of objections registered by the Bar Council Of Delhi on March 9 in a letter to the Consumer Affairs minister against inclusion of the legal profession under "services", the Bar Council of India has also reiterated that the legal profession is merely an activity to aid and assist the judicial administration system. As stated in the letter,
"It's a judicially acknowledged fact that advocates' profession is not part of any trade, commerce or industry. It's not even a service within the ambit of Service Tax Act and is merely an activity in aid and assistance of the justice administration system."
The BCI has inter alia emphasized that such this inclusion, would apart from attracting frivolous claims, have serious repercussions on the legal profession & shall "be demeaning and derogatory for the whole class of advocates".
It also states that the Advocates Act, 1961 already sufficiently safeguards litigants against misconduct by advocates and provides a mechanism to deal with complaints of misconduct.
Deeming the proposal as"draconian" , the BCI has warned that passing of such a law would lead to a "massive agitation" by the the legal fraternity.
On March 12, the Delhi High Court Bar Association wore "white arm bands" as a display of protest against the proposal to include advocates under the ambit of 'service providers' under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.