The Gujarat High Court on Friday watered down specific rules of the Bar Council of Gujarat in the case of a single mother who was asked to give up other forms of vocation before enrolling herself as an advocate with the Bar.
The petitioner, Twinkle Mangaonkar, moved the high court in 2019, after she received her degree in law and applied to enroll with the Bar Council, with a view to clear the All India Bar Council Examination, also submitting the necessary fee of Rs 16,600 at the time, while declaring that she was already employed.
However, the Bar Council of Gujarat (BCG), did not accept her application form on the ground of her existing employment, stating that the enrollment rules stipulate that one should not be employed elsewhere, either in full or part time service or/and is not engaged in any trade, business or profession. The BCG asked the petitioner to resign to sit for the examination.
The petitioner pointed out that unless she clears the exam and has the enrollment certificate, it was not possible for her to give up her employment and lose her regular source of income. The requests, however, were not accepted.
Mangaonkar, living with her college-going son and retired father, following the demise of her journalist husband in 2009, sought that rule 1 and rule 2 of BCG Enrollment Rules be read down.
She said that “the process of giving up her current job and taking up law as a full time profession has to be a gradual process”, and that she can “give up her current job and take up the profession of law only when her circumstances permit her to do so”.
The petitioner also submitted that once she clears the Bar Council entrance exam, she would submit a declaration on oath that she has given up the job.
While pronouncing the verdict on Friday, the division bench stated, “It is too much to say that a person desirous of getting themselves enrolled as an advocate with the state Bar Council should be asked at its inception to give up any other vocation — business or job — and only thereafter he/she can be enrolled… The lady is in a helpless situation. Today if she gives up her job being a single mother and god forbid she is unable to clear the bar council exam, then she would be left without any means of livelihood…”
The division bench of Chief Justice Vikram Nath and Justice JB Pardiwala thus read down the two respective rules – rule 1 and 2 of BCG Enrollment Rules.
The court also directed BCG to issue a provisional enrollment certificate to her so that she can appear for the bar exams, and the registration number required for her to appear in the exams, be provided to her within three days.
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