March 16, 2021 1:13:54 am
The Delhi High Court Monday issued a notice to the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) in a petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan against the proceedings going on against him before the council’s disciplinary committee. The proceedings are on a complaint alleging that he appeared on behalf of three NGOs in court despite being a member of the governing bodies of those organisations.
The court also issued notice to the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Bhushan’s petition, which also challenges the rule that prevents advocates from appearing even pro bono in public interest cases on behalf of organisations of which they happen to be office bearer or member of their executive committee. Bhushan was represented by advocate Shadan Farasat before a division bench of the High Court Monday.
In the petition filed through advocate Neha Rathi, Bhushan has argued that there is “absolutely no rationale or justification” for a rule which bars an organisation from engaging one of its own members, who happens to be an advocate, to represent it in a case which it takes up even in public interest and without any fees. The rule challenged by Bhushan is Rule 8 of the Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquettes Rules framed under Advocates Act by the Bar Council of India.
A complaint was filed against Bhushan in 2017 for appearing on behalf of Centre for Public interest Litigation, Common Cause, and Swaraj Abhiyan. A similar complaint had been filed against him in 2001 for appearing on behalf of People’s Union for Civil Liberties on the ground that he was its member, according to the petition, which adds that the same was dropped in 2012 on orders of the High Court.
Bhushan has argued that the complaint against him has been referred to the Disciplinary Committee despite the fact that he has resigned as office bearer of the three organisations.
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