The Ministry of Railways has issued a Circular following the directions of the High Court of Kerala to treat identity card issued to advocates by Bar Councils as valid proof of identity for train journey.
On August 8, the High Court through a judgment of Justice Devan Ramachandran directed the Railways to accept ID cards issued by Bar Councils as valid proof as they are statutory bodies under the Advocates Act. The order was made in a case where the request to consider the lawyer identity cards was rejected by the Indian Railways stating that Bar councils were not government bodies, and further they are available at different levels in the country (district, state, national) and hence in the absence of any uniformity in the cards issued by such bodies, the same ought not to be considered as valid and acceptable.
Disapproving the stand of Railways, Justice Devan ordered :“It becomes ineluctable that there cannot be any further cause or concern for the Indian Railways, in accepting the photo identity cards issued by the various Bar Councils, since the respective Councils are obligated to verify and affirm the authenticity of a card issued by them, in case its genuineness is suspected for any reason by the competent Authorities of the Indian Railways. This is more so because they are statutory bodies, operating under the ambit of the Advocates Act, thus enjoining them to ensure the validity and rectitude of the cards and documents issued by them, if it is so required by any Authority, in terms of law.”
It was also held that the notion of different level of Bar councils was incorrect, there being only one respective Bar council for a state and a Bar Council of India at the national level. The Court therefore asked the authority concerned in the railways to issue appropriate orders notifying the above as expeditiously as possible.
The Circular issued by Joint Director Passenger Marketing of Railway Board following the judgment states " In pursuance of the judgment of the High Court of Kerala in W.P(c) No.35703 of 2014 the matter has been examined and it has been decided that photo identity cards with serial number issued to Advocates by Bar Councils of India may also be accepted as proof of identity of passengers for undertaking journey by train". The Circular instructs Principal Chief Commercial Managers of all Zonal Railways to issue necessary instructions to all concerned to avoid inconvenience to passengers. It also directs the Zonal Managers to give wide publicity to the revised instructions for the benefit of general public.