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"You Want To Be Rowdy Rathore, Unruly?": Himachal Pradesh High Court Disposes of Plea Challenging BCI's Latest 'Criticism-Disqualification' Rule

Sparsh Upadhyay
29 Jun 2021 12:20 PM GMT
You Want To Be Rowdy Rathore, Unruly?: Himachal Pradesh High Court Disposes of Plea Challenging BCIs Latest Criticism-Disqualification Rule
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The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday disposed of a plea 'as withdrawn', which challenging the recently inserted Sections V and V-A of Chapter II of Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules as unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 19 (1) (a), and 21.The petition had been moved by Neeraj Shashwat, an advocate of Himachal Pradesh High Court, who challenged section-V...

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The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday disposed of a plea 'as withdrawn', which challenging the recently inserted Sections V and V-A of Chapter II of Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules as unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14, 19 (1) (a), and 21.

The petition had been moved by Neeraj Shashwat, an advocate of Himachal Pradesh High Court, who challenged section-V was added in Part VI, Chapter II of the Bar Council of India Rules, which states as follows:

"An Advocate shall conduct himself/herself as a gentleman/gentle lady in his/her day to day life and he/she shall not do any unlawful act, he/she shall not make any statement in the Print, Electronic or Social Media, which is indecent or derogatory, defamatory or motivated, malicious or mischievous against any Court or Judge or any member of Judiciary, or against State Bar Council or Bar Council of India."

The Bench of Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Chander Bhusan Barowalia today asked how the Counsel for the Petitioner/Advocate as to how the rules affected him and why only one advocated had moved before the Court, rather than the associations/bar council.

To this, the Counsel argued that a plea has been moved before the Kerala High Court regarding the matter and that if no association or council challenged the Rules, how does it take away his right to approach the Court.

"You can't say that bars are fools and only I am a literate person. Bars comprise of able people, many judges have come from the Bar," observed the Court.

The Court also asked the Counsel, what was his problem with the term 'Gentleman/Gentlelady' and whether he wanted to be Rowdy Rathore or unruly, if he was objecting to the new rule.

Further, when advocate Sethi argued that the rules are wide and subjective and that members of the bar council would be the victim, Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan ramrked:

"Everything is subject, the law is subject. Bar Council is the regulator of the advocates."

After a while, the Bench showed its inclination to dismiss the plea and asked the Counsel, "How much cost?". To this, Counsel Sethi said:

"If I have not been able to convince you, please do impose the cost, and if my client says he wouldn't pay the cost, I will myself pay the Cost."

To this, the Court said: - "You are at the threshold of your career, you are the only spokesman of your client, don't intermingle the roles. How can you say that you will bear the cost?."

However, later on, the Court disposed of the plea as withdrawn at this stage.

The grounds for challenging the impugned notification were as follows:

  • The notification to an extent is challenged is against Article 19(1)(a) & (g) of the Constitution of India and does not satisfy the exception under Article 19(2) & 19(6)(i) of the Constitution of India.
  • That the provisions and the language used thereto is so vague as wound amount to arbitrary restriction and is against Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
  • That, in case of Respondent No. 1 or 2 are in any way aggrieved by the conduct of any advocate related to the issues specified in the impugned regulations, by virtue of Section 5 of the Advocates Act, 1961, they have the recourse to the jurisdiction of specific courts designated for adjudication of such offences/issues.
  • That the procedure of the adjudication of the guilt under Section 35/36 r/w Section 9 of the Advocates` Act, 1961 is also against the basic principles of Natural Justice and the principles of fairness as one cannot be a judge in its own cause.

It had been prayed that the notification of the Bar Council of India be quashed and set aside passed by it to an extent of Section-V, which was added in Part VI, Chapter II of the Bar Council of India Rules as being arbitrary and unconstitutional.

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