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BCI stays BCD order restraining advocates from holding religious functions in lawyers' chambers, bar associations' premises

ANI | Updated: Oct 14, 2021 12:25 IST

New Delhi [India], October 14 (ANI): Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India (BCI) has put an interim stay on the decision of the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) dated October 6, 2021, restraining advocates from holding any religious functions or activities in the lawyers' chambers and on the premises of Bar associations.
The BCI has also issued notice to the respondent Sohan Singh Tomar and Iqbal Malik and listed December 18, 2021, as the date of hearing. It has also sought the records from the BCD pertaining to the matter.
The applicant "Lawyers's voice", a registered organisation of advocates, with the object to promote the rights, interests and privileges of the advocates, through its Secretary Neeraj has challenged the BCD's decision dated October 6, 2021.
Advocates Himanshu Pathak and SNVerma, the counsels for the applicant, told a disciplinary committee of the BCI that the applicant "Lawyers's voice" is aggrieved with the order dated October 6, 2021, passed by the disciplinary committee of the BCD in the matter of complaint by Sohan Singh Tomar alias Sonu against Iqbal Malik, Advocate.
Bar Council of Delhi had ordered that the bar associations and advocates cannot conduct any religious functions or programs/activities in the chambers corridors, parking or any other place within the court premises.

By the impugned order, the committee of State Bar Council, Delhi has made the following general and omnibus observations and directions which have made the applicant aggrieved and has given the cause of action to move the present appeal before this council.
BCI said that prima-facie, it appears that the main issue before the committee was to examine the conduct of an advocate, who had arranged the conversion of Hindu girl and had facilitated the Nikah of the said girl with a man belonging to another religion in his chamber only.
"The Committee was required to examine whether the conduct of said advocate could be covered under the definition of professional or other misconduct or not? From the concluding paragraph of the impugned order, it appears that the complaint against the said advocates has finally been dismissed by the committee, " said BCI.
"However without framing any issue prima-facie, it appears that the committee of Bar Council of Delhi has issued the impugned general directions and has exceeded its jurisdiction. Before, making any such direction /observation, the Bar Council of Delhi was required to examine whether it was /is competent to pass such orders. The Bar Council of India Rules (which deals with the conduct of advocates) does not prohibit any advocate from performing a religious function in his chamber. It is not out of place to mention that even some High Court's administration has provided space to some particular religion to offer prayers in their premises," BCI said.
BCI also said that "prima facie it appears that such general direction restraining the advocates or the Bar Associations from performing any religious function or programme is beyond the jurisdiction of any Bar Council, particularly when this issue was not there before the Disciplinary Committee of Bar Council of Delhi."
"The case in hand relates to allowing conversion of religion and performance of Nikah in the Lawyer's chamber, which was/is apparently an illegal act and can not be allowed to be performed in the Lawyer's Chambers or in the premises of any Bar Association. But the Bar Council of Delhi has dismissed that complaint, " the BCI said.
"We, therefore, find it an appropriate case for grant of interim stay of the part of the impugned order by which the general advocates/Bar associations have been restrained from holding any religious functions/programs/activities in their chambers or in the premises of the Bar Associations. The application for interim stay is accordingly allowed," BCI said. (ANI)