Amended Bar Council of India Rules a direct attack on free speech: plea in Bombay High Court

The Rules of Bar Council of India (BCI) have been amended which prohibit criticism of the regulatory body as well as State Bar Councils across the country and same have been challenged before the Bombay High Court.

The petitioner stated that these amended rules are direct attack on the independence of the bar as it is considered to be assault on the fundamental right of the petitioner specifically freedom of speech.

Moreover it was submitted that the rules are an “attempt to smother the voice of the advocates, to reign terror under the garb of misconduct and to please the judges”. He further compared these rules with “draconian UAPA Act”.

Therefore, petitioner contended that the amendment is violative of the Advocates Act, 1961 and Articles 14, 19(1) (c)and 21 of the Constitution.

an order of injunction has been soughted against Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana from granting approval to the Rules.

According to proviso to Section 49(1) of the Advocates Act, approval of the CJI is necessary before amendments to the BCI Rules can come into force.

It was further contended that that by issuing the notification for amending the rules, BCI failed in its duty to protect the rights of the advocates.

The new rules also prevent members from publishing anything against any resolution or order of any State Bar Council or Bar Council of India or using abusive language towards the Bar Council, its office-bearers or members.

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