As per the amendments, an advocate shall not be permitted to publish anything or to make any statement or press-release in the media against any resolution or order of a State Bar Council or the Bar Council of India
By: Nidhi N. Anand, Ramaiah College of Law
The Bar Council of India (BCI) has amended its Rules to make any assertion made with the aid of using an advocate that’s indecent or derogatory, defamatory, motivated, malicious, or mischievous towards any court, judge, State Bar Council, or the BCI, a ground for suspension or cancellation of license to practice law. Further, criticizing or attacking any decision of any State Bar Council or Bar Council of India on a public domain can even amount to “misconduct,” that may entice disqualification or suspension.
The new amendment was notified in the gazette on June 25, 2021. Two new provisions have been inserted in this regard withinside the BCI Rules: The first turned into the insertion of Section V in Part-VI, Chapter-II of the Bar Council of India Rules and the second being insertion of Section VA. While the former lays down Duties towards Society and Bar, the latter prescribes Code of conduct and Disqualification for members of Bar Councils.
“Section V – Duties towards Society and Bar :— An Advocate shall conduct himself/herself as a gentleman/gentlewoman in his/her day to day existence 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.”
Any such act/behavior shall amount to misconduct and such Advocates could be susceptible to be proceeded under Sections 35 or 36 of the Advocates Act, 1961, it stated.
Section 35 prescribes punishment for misconduct which may be suspension from exercise or disqualification. Any willful violation, disregard, or defiance of any decision or order of the State Bar Council or Bar Council of India may also be construed as misconduct, the amendment similarly said.
Section VA lays down the Code of conduct and Disqualification for members of Bar Councils. It provides that no member of any State Bar Council or Bar Council of India shall be permitted to publish anything or to make any statement or press release in print, electronic or social media against any resolution or order of concerned State Bar Council or Bar Council of India or to make/use any derogatory or abusive language/comment/s/ word/s against the Bar Council or its office-bearers or members.
Further, the decision of any State Bar Council or the Bar Council of India shall not be criticized or attacked by any Member/s of Bar Council in the public domain. Violation of the same could additionally bring about suspension or disqualification.
However, a proviso to Section VA clarified that wholesome and legitimate criticism made in proper faith, shall not be treated as “misconduct.”
Furthermore, a 3 Member Committee shall be required to hold an inquiry for declaring any Advocate or Member of Bar Council as disqualified from contesting the elections. The Committee shall be headed by a Former Chief Justice or a former Judge of any High Court and shall be constituted by the Bar Council of India consisting of any member of Bar Council of India or a Member or Office-Bearer of any State Bar Council or any Advocate with a minimum of 25 years of standing at the Bar.