Share via Whatsapp  68 Views

SC censures Bar association for obstructing lawyers as volunteers


The Supreme Court on Monday said a Bar association passing a resolution to restrict lawyers from working for the Legal Aid Defense System of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) is 'sheer contempt of court'.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud, Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala expressed its displeasure at the Bar Association Committee of Bharatpur for passing a resolution against lawyers who had been appointed as volunteers under the Legal Aid Defense System of NALSA.

In every state, a State Legal Services Authority is constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the central authority (NALSA) and to provide legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the state.

The court made the above observation while hearing a petition seeking contempt action against the Bar Association of Bharatpur in Rajasthan for suspending the licence of three lawyers who had been appointed as legal aid defence counsel by the district legal aid services authority.

The petitioners, who were appointed as public defenders under NALSA, claimed they were suspended from the association for not participating in the association's protest.

"The Bar Association Committee has unanimously passed a resolution in august 2022, prohibiting any member of the association from applying for the post of defence counsel, and commanding members already engaged to either resign from the membership of the association or from their post," the petitioners said in their plea.

During the hearing, Chandrachud said, "The reason why lawyers don't want anyone to appear in the defence counsel system is that you want to ensure there is no legal aid. This is sheer criminal contempt."

The CJI also said that denying someone legal aid amounted to criminal contempt.

"Please inform the Bar Association that we're taking a very strict view of this. You cannot say that nobody will appear as defence counsel. This is sheer criminal contempt. We will send all these people to jail. You must withdraw the resolution," the CJI warned.

The bench asked the Bar Association Committee of Bharatpur to file a counter-affidavit explaining whether the resolution has been withdrawn.

"The office-bearers should remain personally present. Let the contemnor be also present," the court observed.

It should be noted that the apex court in March had stayed the decision of the association to suspend the petitioners.

Lawyers in Bharatpur have been protesting the introduction of the legal aid defence counsel scheme in the district.

"Due to the sudden introduction off the legal aid defence counsel scheme in Bharatpur, the Bar has been agitating against the legal services authorities. When the recruitment process was initiated, the collective leadership of the associations registered a protest against it. The movement was led by the president of the Bar Association Committee and the convener and president of the Bar Sangharsh Samiti," the petitioners said.

Advocates Purnaprakash Sharma, Puneet Garg, and Madhavendra Singh, who are the petitioners, did not participate in the protest and continued working under the scheme.

This scheme engages lawyers full-time to exclusively devote their effort to providing legal aid, assistance, and representation to persons accused or convicted or of crimes. the scheme was earlier introduced in session courts as a pilot project but is gradually being extended to other parts of India. This is different from the usual model assigning cases to empanelled lawyers who also have private practices.

The petitioner said the acts of the Bar Association amount to 'wilful and severe disobedience' to the law. dt. 09.05.2023

'Kedarnath', 7, Avadh Vihar, Near Nirali Dhani,

Chopasni Road

Jodhpur - 342 008 (Rajasthan) INDIA

Phones : 9785602619 (11 am - 5 pm)

E-Mail : /