The Gujarat High Court has issued notice to Bar Council of India in a Public Interest Litigation registered by the High Court administration itself raising the issue of incompetency of lawyers.
The Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Anant S. Dave and Justice Biren Vaishnav has posted the PIL on 30th March, 2019.
The Suo Motu PIL was registered pursuant to an order by single bench presided by Justice Bela M. Trivedi who had expressed concern in this regard. The PIL makes two suggestions: one is to frame rules in this regard and the other is to organise regular training for lawyers on how to conduct matters, and the ethics and etiquettes they need to follow in the courtroom.
On January 11, Justice Trivedi came across a writ petition challenging a Notice issued under the Town Planning Act, but it quoted the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The judge also noted that the concerned lawyer was ignorant of facts and law of the case and kept on arguing the case referring to the Land Acquisition Act.
"When the Court expressed orally that it was not inclined to entertain the petition and would dismiss with cost to be paid by him and not by the petitioners, he had an audacity to say that this was not the final Court and that he would approach the Supreme Court", the judge said while dismissing the petition imposing cost of Rs.10,000 on the lawyer.
In a further order, the judge observed that the lawyer did not only fail to maintain the dignity and decorum of the Court, but also failed to make competent representation of the case on behalf of his clients. It was also observed that the incompetent representation of the case by the Advocate on behalf of the clients has not been incorporated in the Bar Council of India Rules, nor the same is being treated as the misconduct entailing disciplinary proceedings. The judge had observed.
"It is needless to say that the reputation of legal profession is linked with the confidence and trust of the public at large, as to how public views the administration of justice. Hence, it is very essential that in order to maintain the reputation of legal profession, the ethical standards for the lawyers are clearly defined and effective disciplinary procedures are put in place. One of the key ethical standards for lawyers is competent representation, which in turn would encompass legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, preparation of the case, fairness etc,."
While directing the registry to place the matter before the Acting Chief Justice, the judge had further observed:
"In order to make the ethics and code of conduct to be relevant and enforceable, the lawyers must be made aware of the same. Ethics can also form part of the continuing legal education programmes. The Government, Bar Councils and Bar Associations may ensure, by conducting on regular basis the continuous education and training programmes for advocates that the cause of administration of justice may not suffer because of the incompetence of the Advocates."