Orissa HC orders State Bar Council to hold Elections

Orissa High court Law INSIDER

Ambika Bhardwaj

Published On: January 05, 2022 at 13:44 IST

The dispute over a Special Committee appointed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) to run the matters of the Odisha State Bar Council (OSBC) took a crucial turn on Tuesday, with the Orissa High Court releasing a guideline to hold Elections.

The OSBC was directed to keep the Elections inside of six weeks by a Bench of Justice Arindam Sinha. Advocate members of OSBC-affiliated Bar Associations appoint 25 members for a five-year term, and all these members appoint the chairman, vice chairman, and BCI representative. Elections have been scheduled for almost two years.

The conflict began in July 2021, when two former OSBC members, Chinmay Mohanty and Sitanshu Mohan Dwibedi, filed a plea seeking the Court’s involvement in order to keep Elections.

The OSBC asserted that Elections after the expiration of its five-year term in May 2019 were not feasible because the final Electoral roll had not been ready due to the failure to complete the verification process to identify non-practicing Advocates.

According to the Plea, the Advocates Act of 1961 allows for a maximum extension of one year, but only in two six-month terms. Even if the one-year extension was accepted, the extended time would end on May 4, 2020.

After such date, the Committee in charge of the Bar Council will have no legal standing, and new Elections will be held for a new body.

The Petitioners’ arguments were supported by Justice Sinha. The BCI formed a special Committee to hold on to OSBC after the extended six-month term ended.

As a result, the Committee, chaired by Advocate General Ashok Parija (also an ex-officio member of the OSBC), and comprised of senior Advocate Manas Ranjan Mohapatra and advocate Ajay Kumar Baral (both are members of the Committee), has been in charge of OSBC affairs since November 5, 2019.

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