No Bar For A Mere Accused In A Criminal Case To Enroll As A Lawyer, Holds Madhya Pradesh HC [Read Order]

No Bar For A Mere Accused In A Criminal Case To Enroll As A Lawyer, Holds Madhya Pradesh HC [Read Order]

‘The petitioner merely being an accused in the aforesaid criminal case for offences where guilt is yet to be proved, in the considered opinion of this Court, cannot deny entry to petitioner entry into the State Rolls as an Advocate for the simple reason that petitioner, for the time being, does not incur any disqualification u/s 24-A of Advocates Act.’

The Madhya Pradesh High court held that a person cannot be barred from enrolling as a lawyer merely for being an accused in a criminal case for offences where guilt is yet to be proved.

Justice Sheel Nagu not only directed the Bar Council to reconsider its decision but also imposed costs of Rs. 5000 to be paid to Braj Mohan Mahajan who was denied entry into the State Rolls as Advocate.

M.P. State Bar Council had refused to enroll Braj Mohan on the ground that he was accused in a criminal case and the offences punishable u/S 452, 352, 323, 294 of IPC were alleged against him. Challenging this action, Braj Mohan approached the High court.

Before the High court, the state bar council relied on a decision of the High court which held that that pendency of criminal case is enough to incur disqualification for being registered as an advocate under the 1961 Act. But, perusing the said judgment, the court observed that it was a case where the accused was convicted for offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and his appeal before the High Court was pending.

“The said judgment is of no avail to the Council since petitioner does not suffer any conviction for any offence. The petitioner merely being an accused in the aforesaid criminal case for offences where guilt is yet to be proved, in the considered opinion of this Court, cannot deny entry to petitioner entry into the State Rolls as an Advocate for the simple reason that petitioner, for the time being, does not incur any disqualification u/s 24-A of Advocates Act.”, the Court said.

The bar council also told the High court that a resolution has been passed by it debarring persons accused of criminal offences from entering into rolls as advocates. In this regard, the court said: “The enabling provision u/S 24(1)(e) cannot override the provision of Section 24-A of Advocates Act which is couched in prohibitive language. Going by the Rules of interpretation of statutes the provision of Section 24-A of the Advocates Act cannot be supplanted by Section 24(1)(e), unless the Council can point out any other condition specified in rules framed by the State Bar Council under Chapter III of Advocates Act,”

The Court then directed the M.P. State Bar Council to re-consider the application filed by Braj Mohan for enrollment as an Advocate strictly in terms of Section 24 of the Advocates Act and grant him entry into State Rules as Advocate in the State Bar Council if he is not disqualified u/S 24-A of the Act.

Read the Order Here