Telangana High Court Questions Mandate for Advocates to Join Bar Association, Issues Notice to Bar Council of India

Telangana High Court challenges Bar Council's mandate for advocates to join associations upon enrollment. Notice issued. Plea argues violation of constitutional rights.

The Telangana High Court has taken notice of a plea challenging the Certificate of Practice (COP) Rules, 2015, set by the Bar Council of India (BCI). These rules mandate advocates to join a bar association upon enrollment. Justice B Vijaysen Reddy issued a notice to the BCI and scheduled further hearing for June 6.

According to the rules in question, advocates must join a bar association and pay fees to the State Bar Council. The bar association then issues a certificate to the advocate specifying their practice in a particular court. Subsequently, the Bar Council grants the Certificate of Practice.

However, a provision states, "If any Advocate does not intend to be a member of any Bar Association duly recognized by the concerned State Bar Council, then he shall be required to intimate the same to the State Bar Council and he shall have to explain as to how shall he be getting the benefits of any welfare scheme floated by the State Bar Council or the Local Bar Association. The decision of State Bar Council shall be final in this regard."

The plea was lodged by a lawyer who highlighted the membership fees of the Telangana High Court Advocates Association, ranging from ₹2,800 per annum for general membership to over ₹1 lakh for platinum membership.

The petitioner argued that any rule compelling advocates to join a bar association violates Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India and the statutory right under Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

"The said rule of becoming Member of the Bar Association, with comes with the clause of a payment of fee i.e. 25,000; 10,000; 3,000; and General Membership is 2800, for each bar council under each state, adds illegal, needless financial burden on the candidates who are already under immense financial hardships," the plea stated.

The plea emphasized that it should be the advocate's choice whether to participate in the welfare schemes offered by the bar association or the BCI. Advocates cannot be forced to join such associations or be obligated to participate in their schemes.

Furthermore, the petitioner asserted that no bar association has a legal basis to issue a certificate to any advocate to validate their practice.

Based on these arguments, the petitioner seeks an order from the Court to strike down Rule 6 of the COP Rules, specifically the requirement for advocates to join a bar association upon enrollment, as being ultra vires Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India.

Advocate Vijay Gopal represented the petitioner in person.