Supreme Court to consider uniform guidelines for advocates’ bodies across the country

Case will be taken up for detailed hearing on July 16

April 21, 2024 01:38 am | Updated 01:38 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court has decided to consider framing guidelines for advocates’ associations across the country in a bid to make their admission regulations uniform and democratic.

A Bench headed by Justice Surya Kant has titled the proceedings ‘In Re: Strengthening of the Institution of Bar Associations’.

The top court impleaded major Bar associations and bodies, including the Tamil Nadu Bar Council and the Madras High Court Advocates Association as parties in the case on April 16. It issued notice to the Madras Bar Association in March.

The case has been scheduled for a detailed hearing on July 16 at 2.30 pm.

The court, in its order, clarified that its limited purpose was to “lay down broad guidelines that may be followed for strengthening and enhancing the status and streamlining the overall functioning of Bar Associations throughout the country”.

Several senior lawyers, including senior advocates Shekhar Naphade and A. Sirajuddin are appearing in the case before the top court. Advocate V. Balaji appears for the Madras Bar Association.

Mr. Naphade argued that common guidelines would help strengthen the functioning of advocates’ bodies and associations.

Genesis of case

The case initially came to the Supreme Court in the form of a petition filed by advocate Elephant G. Rajendran against a senior lawyer and the Madras Bar Association. However, Mr. Rajendran unconditionally withdrew the allegations in March. Following this, the top court decided to focus solely on the framing of uniform guidelines.

The case was triggered by an incident when Mr. Rajendran’s son, a young lawyer who was not a member of the Madras Bar Association, was admonished by the senior lawyer for attempting to drink water from a filter on the association premises in 2012.

A Single Bench of the Madras High Court had questioned whether the Madras Bar Association, founded in 1865, was intended for an “elite society of lawyers”. The Single Bench had directed the association to distribute applications for membership to all interested practising lawyers in the High Court, and admit them as members without discriminating on the basis of caste, gender, religion and economic status.

However, a Division Bench of the High Court had later set aside the Single Judge order making adverse remarks against the association.

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