The Bar Council of India (BCI) has recommended the introduction of an experience clause for every new entrant to the Bar, making it mandatory for advocates to practice at a district court first before joining the High Court and the Supreme Court. In the backdrop of the Tis Hazari court violence, it is learnt the council also recommended that lawyers with a criminal background will not be allowed to contest bar elections.
This comes after Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde, in his maiden speech Thursday, said the credibility of the Bar was key to maintaining the independence of the judiciary.
Acknowledging the CJI’s suggestions, the BCI said it was proposing to amend its rule and exercise the powers vested in it under the Advocates Act, 1961. “Before joining any High Court bar, a newly enrolled advocate will have to practice in a District/Taluka court, at least for two years. Any advocate could join the High Court Bar now only after producing the certificate,” the BCI said in a statement.
Apart from the mandatory experience clause, the BCI strongly expressed its view on lawyers with criminal backgrounds. “Till the rules are finalised, there shall be no election of any Bar Association in the country. Errant, arrogant, non-practicing and persons with criminal backgrounds shall not be allowed to contest any election of any Bar association or any Bar council,” the statement read.
The BCI also recommended that before practicing at the apex court, advocates will have to gain a two-year mandatory experience at the High Court. The council is also considering a requirement for a minimum number of appearances in courts before grant of certificates to practice.
The BCI said the recommendations would be finalised in a joint meeting with all state and high court bar associations in the country in January 2020, and will come into force by March.
Furthermore, the council is proposing to make continuous legal education compulsory for advocates up to 10 years, and has also agreed to a suggestion by Attorney General K K Venugopal for enhancement of the retirement age of High Court and Supreme Court judges.