The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a petition seeking to quash an order passed by a Single Judge of the Madras High Court in October last year to set up an expert committee of academicians, retired IAS and police officers to virtually take over the tasks of the Bar Council of India (BCI) and filter out persons with criminal antecedents from enrolling as advocates.
A Bench of Justices V. Gopala Gowda and U.U. Lalit also issued notice to the BCI, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and sought a response within four week on the petition filed by an advocate, S.M. Anantha Murugan through his counsel, A. Venayagam Balan, and the Central government among others.
Mr. Murugan contended that the High Court did not lend an ear to his arguments that there was no need for a new panel when a legal education committee was already in existence. He said the legal education committee was looking into aspects of improving legal education and enrolment of advocates. The committee could have former Supreme Court and High Court judges, a sitting Chief Justice of any of the High Courts, a distinguished professor of law, the law secretary and UGC Chairman and also five members of the Bar Council of India to effectively bar persons with criminal antecedents from entering the legal profession.
Mr. Murugan submitted that the HC misunderstood his submissions and gave a direction to replace the BCI with the expert body.
He also contended that a committee peopled with those from other professions would “seriously prejudice” the legal profession.
Petition had opposed formation of panel to prevent criminals from enrolling as lawyers