Earlier this week, BCI chief Manan Kumar Mishra announced before Chief Justice of India J S Khehar and other senior Supreme Court judges that its ongoing drive had already cut the number of genuine lawyers to 55-60% of those roaming court corridors across the country.
“The number of practicing lawyers is about to come down to 55-60% after the completion of the verification process. This will certainly improve the quality of our legal profession,” Mishra told a gathering of lawyers and judges at a function held to felicitate CJI Khehar. Citing figures, Mishra said: “…as per the 2012 election statistics of BCI, we had almost 14 lakh voters, but since this verification process has started, we have received only 6.5 lakh applications.”
Voters are lawyers enrolled with various State Bar Councils to practice law in respective trial courts and the state’s high court. The figures left CJI Khehar troubled. “I am so happy that BCI has started the verification process. But it is not only about people with false degrees, but also those with no degrees. These people work without a licence. They go to court and practice without any authority. We need to start much before, right from the institutions,” the CJI observed, saying BCI’s Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules must root out unruly and criminal elements from the legal fraternity.
The CJI, who as a young lawyer defended Justice V Ramaswami during his impeachment proceedings by Parliament, had a word of advice in his speech: “Everyone needs a good, competent lawyer, be it the Prime Minister or a judge of the Supreme Court.” He urged BCI to train young lawyers to make them understand the profession and its work ethics and asked the apex lawyers’ body to improve the quality of legal institutions by training and helping litigants and making the lawyers competent enough to discharge their obligations towards society.
“Lawyers serve the society. Lawyers should be the best. The institution should be competent to discharge the obligation. Arrange training for people who join the bar. People who are scared. People who do not know their profession. Help them. You need to help a lawyer one time, he will then fight every case by himself as he will understand how to search for the law. Also teach them ethics. Have good institutions,” he said.
While welcoming the CJI and other dignitaries, BCI chairman Mishra extended his support to the CJI-headed collegium. “The BCI is seriously concerned about the delay tactics and objectionable conditions proposed by the government in the Memorandum of Procedure, a document to guide appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges.