SC stays BCI's withdrawal of Exemption granted to AoRs from filing BCI Verification Forms

SC stays BCI

Supreme Court of India has stayed the Bar Council of India’s withdrawal of Exemption granted to ‘Advocates on Record’ from filing forms under Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules 2015.

Today’s Order came in a Petition filed by Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association Secretary Nandini Gore, demanding impleadment in the case titled Ajayinder Sangwan v. Bar Council of Delhi & Ors. The impleadment application challengeed the alleged “unilateral withdrawal” of exemption granted to AoRs from filing Verification Forms.

Yesterday, when the matter was mentioned before Justices Pinaki Chandra Ghose and Amitava Roy, it was directed to list it Today.

Advocates on Record were earlier exempted from the requirement of filling up verification form by Rule 5(a) of the Rules. Instead, AoRs had to submit a separate ‘Form E’. The exercise of filling up Forms is to ascertain if an advocate is in actual legal practice.

The petition contended that the SC AoRs are a distinct category and all information about them is available and easily verifiable through the Computer Code allotted to them. It is further averred that before becoming an AoR, the respective Bar Council itself gives continuity certificate as required under Supreme Court Rules. This continuity certificate, it claims, is the verification by the concerned State Bar Council.

It also emphasizes on the fact that the name of each and every AoR, along with their code and address is available on the website of the Supreme Court of India, which is in the public domain.

The exemption was withdrawn by the BCI, through an amendment in the Rule brought about by a notification. This notification, it contends, was neither published in public domain, nor made available to SCAORA despite request made to the BCI on May 18.

It hence demanded that urgent directions be issued to the Bar Council of India and the various State Bar Councils to accept Form E from the Advocates-on-Record of the Supreme Court, as available to them under Rule 5(a) of the Rules.

It further prayed that the amendment notification, if any, be quashed, and that BCI be directed to grant exemption to AoRs as earlier granted.

The Bar Council of India Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules, 2015 were notified in January this year. These rules mandate a “Certificate of Practice”, in the absence of which, the Advocate would not be entitled to practice law. (Section 5 of the Rules)