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SC Orders BCI to Guarantee Prompt Resolution of Complaints Made by Litigants Against Attorneys

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Supreme Court LAW INSIDER

Tanisha Rana

Published on: October 9, 2022 at 19:14 IST

The Supreme Court has ordered the Bar Council of India (BCI) to guarantee prompt resolution of cases referred to it by State Bar Councils and including complaints made by litigants against attorneys.

In order to preserve the integrity and discipline of the legal profession and to guarantee that litigants continue to have faith in the legal system and the judiciary, a bench of judges led by Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari stated that swift resolution of such cases is necessary.

According to Section 36(b) of the Advocates Act, the BCI will take over disciplinary proceedings if the State Bar Councils’ disciplinary committees do not resolve complaints within a year.

“To have the discipline and maintain the purity of the profession the complaints made by the concerned litigants are required to be dispose of at the earliest so that the litigants may continue to have the faith in the profession and in its system,” the Court said.

In light of this, it granted the BCI a final extension of three months in this respect and requested that it resolve such matters by December 31 of this year.

The current case resulted from a contempt suit filed by attorney Charanjeet Singh Chanderpal against the BCI for failing to abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling in K Anjinappa vs. KC Krishna Reddy and Anr. in December 2021.

In that decision, the bench that Justice Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna made asked the BCI to resolve transferred complaints within a year, among other things.

“ … we direct the Bar Council of India to finally dispose of the transferred complaints, the particulars of which are referred to hereinabove expeditiously but not later than one year from today and for which even the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India may hold circuit hearings …”

“We also direct the respective State Bar Councils to decide and dispose of the complaint(s) received by it under Section 35 expeditiously and to conclude the same within a 2 period of one year from the date of receipt of the complaint as mandated under Section 36B of the Advocates Act,” that judgment had said.

The Bench had noted that the BCI had just sent a circular to remind/inform State Bar Councils to comply with the apex court’s directives when the matter was initially listed on May 20 of this year.

Later, the Court ruled that the same was insufficient.

The most recent judgement issued by the apex court on September 29 began by noting that the designated inquiry officers in charge of the majority of the complaints transferred to the BCI had not turned in the required reports for resolution.

Manan Kumar Mishra, a senior attorney and the Chairperson of the BCI, proposed that the complaints be handled by circuit benches of the BCI in the affected States in addition to requesting an additional three months to resolve cases.

The bench took note of the submission that despite legal requirements to transfer cases after a year of pending complaints, the Bar Councils of Maharashtra and Goa were not doing so.

The Bench emphasised the need for prompt resolution of issues that have been before State Bar Councils for more than a year, and it asked the BCI to make this happen.

The case’s next hearing is scheduled on January 9, 2023.

For the petitioner, attorney Anil Kumar also made an appearance.

The respondents were represented by attorneys Radhika Gautam, Apurba Sharma, and Anjul Dwivedi.

Case Title: Charanjeet Singh Chanderpal vs. Vasant D Salunkhe and Ors.