In an extraordinary move, the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Monday passed a Resolution to stay with immediate effect the Supreme Court Bar Association's (SCBA) decision to suspend its Secretary, Mr. Ashok Arora, taken on May 8.
Though the BCI usually does not interfere in affairs of the SCBA, or any Bar Association, the situation has left many members distressed and dismayed, stated the Resolution.
Reminding the SCBA that such an incident would have a far-reaching effect on the working of Bar Associations across the country, the unanimous Resolution was stated to be passed with the aim to maintain dignity and decorum of the institution. It has also been stated that if the Resolution of May 8 is allowed to continue, it was cause irretrievable damage to a lawfully elected office bearer of SCBA.
"Normally this Council avoids to interfere in the affairs of any Bar Association. But, here is an extreme case, where the Council has realized to take notice, but, even then it does not think it proper to enter into the merits of the matter or to interfere into the affairs of Supreme Court Bar Association. But, the issue has a far-reaching effect on the workings of Bar Associations of the country.
However, it is not out of place to mention that Members are deeply dismayed and distressed at the turn of events in the Supreme Court Bar Association, now for quite some time, and are of the considered view that the dignity, prestige and honour of the Bar of the Apex Court of the country has been eroded and damaged by unsavory tussle and infighting among Members of the Executive Committee which is elected by General Body of Members."
Soon after Mr Arora was suspended as the Secretary of SCBA on May 8, he made a representation and questioned certain actions of the President, Mr. Dushyant Dave as well as those of the Executive Committee. His representation was discussed by the BCI in a meeting earlier today, May 11. Since the Chairman of BCI, Mr. Manan Kumar Mishra, is a voting member of the SCBA, he did not participate in this discussion, which was presided over by the Vice-Chairman, Mr. Satish A. Deshmukh.
The Council expressed that they were 'extremely sorry and baffled' with the events that took place on May 8 wherein the EC of SCBA took several decisions, including the one to suspend Mr. Arora. Alluding to this action as vindictive, the suspension was called be "illegal, cavalier, undemocratic and autocratic" by the Council.
"We are of the unanimous view that the resolution passed by the Executive Committee on 8th May, 2020 suspending Mr. Ashok Arora is beyond the powers of Executive Committee and is, therefore, illegal, cavalier, undemocratic and autocratic in nature. It is vindictive on the face of it. Mr. Arora was elected as Honorary Secretary by the whole general body of Members of Supreme Court Bar Association and by no stretch of any legal imagination the Executive Committee which consists of similarly elected members can assume powers to suspend him. It is mindboggling misuse and abuse of its position by the Executive Committee. Ordinarily, even a body which is conferred with power to take such an action would issue a show cause notice to the person concerned. Therefore, the action/impugned Resolution of Executive Committee is not only illegal and arbitrary but also against the principles of natural justice."
The BCI further believed that their intervention was required because rules and procedures, as well as democratic values of the Bar had been flouted and needed to be set right. Asserting that the SCBA belongs to all its members and not just a select few, the Council also directed Mr. Arora to convene a General Body Meeting within 2 weeks after normal functioning of Supreme Court resumes after the lockdown. Thus, it has been resolved that Ashok Arora will discharge all his functions as the Secretary, with immediate effect.
"Mr. Ashok Arora shall continue to hold his elected position as Honorary Secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association and discharge all functions and powers as such. We also direct Mr. Ashok Arora to convene a General Body Meeting of Supreme Court Bar Association within two weeks after the lockdown is over and normal functioning of the Supreme Court starts. The agenda shall be circulated in advance as per rules of Supreme Court Bar Association. All pending issues including the contentious issues among President, Honorary Secretary and Executive Committee Members shall be part of the agenda for General Body Meeting. The Honorary Secretary may take help of Senior Members of the Bar for an orderly conduct of the General Body Meeting."
SCBA President Slams BCI
Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave, President of the SCBA, slammed the BCI move, by stating :
"This purported order of the BCI is wholly illegal , unauthorised , unlawful and perverse . It is a direct attack on independance of Bar Associations across the Country , not just on the SCBA . BCI has no supervisory jurisdiction or control over Bar Associations which are not at all governed by the Advicates Act , 1961. This attempt is highly mischievous and reflects total failure of the BCI to conduct itself in a legal and proper manner . This order is outside section 7 of that Act which defines and limits functions of the BCI . Order has no legs to stand and deserves to be treated as non-est and incapable of any implementation . In fact it does not deserve any respect whatsoever and must be and will be ignored by the SCBA"
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