Defying the September 15 order of Bar Council of India (BCI), members of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana (BCPH) on Sunday convened a general house meeting to unanimously appoint Lekh Raj Sharma as its chairman, Rajeev Kaswan as honorary secretary and C M Munjal as its member in the Bar Council of India.
The new members have replaced Rajat Gautam as chairman, Parvesh Yadav as honorary secretary and Amit Rana as member in the Bar Council of India. There are 25 elected members of the BCPH and two ex-officio members who are advocate generals of Punjab and Haryana, Ashok Aggarwal and Baldev Raj Mahajan, respectively. The BCPH has around 60,000 registered advocates spread across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
However, Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman of BCI, had on September 15 passed an order, which said “it is further directed to the office-bearers and members of state Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana not to hold or convene any meeting till 22 October 2016”. “If anything very urgent is to be discussed/resolved, the same may be held in the premises of Bar Council of India with the prior permission of the Chairman of the Bar Council of India,” said the order passed by Mishra while hearing a petition filed by Gautam and Yadav.
When contacted, Mishra said, “It is completely illegal and mockery of law as it is no meeting in the eyes of law. It is violation of the rules of BCI. We can disqualify members involved in such activities permanently from contesting any election in future.” He added that in case any no-confidence motion is to be moved against any office-bearer, 30 days’ prior notice is mandatory and there should be proved misconduct whereas there is nothing such in this case.
On September 9 as well, the BCI had restrained the BCPH from convening any such meeting for consideration of any agenda relating to “no confidence motion” against any of its office-bearers without permission from the BCI. The BCI chairman had then observed in his order, “What I find from various records that for the lat four-five years, the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana has become a den of unnecessary controversies and disputes. It was on the intervention of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana as well as of this Council that long after the general elections of the State Bar Council, the mater with regard to the election of the office-bearers could be settled last year.”
The order added, “Now, it appears that again 1 or 2 members have changed the side for obvious reasons, the dirty politics and groupism. Suddenly, 15 members have assembled somewhere and have taken an ex-parte decision to remove the petitioner (honorary secretary).”
Although the press release signed by the new chairman of the BCPH on Sunday claimed “the House accepted the resignation submitted by Mr Rajat Gautam, chairman, and Mr Parvesh Yadav, Hony Secy”, Gautam said he had not resigned.
The release added, “the house also removed him (Gautam) from the post of chairman having lost the faith of the majority i.e. 15 members” and “Amit Rana has also lost the faith of the majority of the members and he is working against the interest of the State Bar Council”.