|BCI says legal profession is not a trade|
New Delhi: The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Tuesday made it clear in the Supreme Court that it cannot permit lawyers practising in the country to advertise, as legal profession is not a trade or business.
Senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for the BCI made this submission before a three-Judge Bench consisting of Justices B.N. Agrawal, P.P. Naolekar and P. Sathasivam hearing a petition for a direction to allow lawyers to advertise or to give information regarding availability of their services in different fields.
Stoutly opposing the petition, counsel brought to the notice of the court that already a four-judge Bench of the apex court had upheld the validity of Rule 36 of the BCI rules prohibiting lawyers from advertising either directly or indirectly. On the contention that lawyers in Western countries were allowed to advertise, he said the situation prevailing in the United Kingdom or the United States was entirely different from Indian conditions, where about 80 per cent of the lawyers could not afford to make any advertisements. He said if permission was granted for soliciting only rich advocates would derive benefit.
On behalf of the petitioner V.B. Joshi it was submitted that the BCI should at least make available information about lawyers practising in different branches of law. Referring to this plea Mr. Krishanamani said that if the court gave such a direction, the BCI would look into it.
The Centre in its counter submitted that the professional duty was the backbone of this profession. The rule against soliciting was the foundation of the legal system in India where legal profession was always treated as a noble profession. Further members of the legal profession were treated as officers of the court.
“The advocate owes duty not only to his clients but to the court and to the society also,” it said and made it clear that BCI was the competent body to take any decision in this regard.
The petitioner said “India is emerging in the global world as the second largest democratic country having half a million advocates practising throughout India and it is a challenge to the entire world. The world must know that in India we have competent lawyers, arbitrators, judges and we have the professional expertise to cater to the needs of the entire world.”
Pointing out that Rule 36 of the BCI rules was an archaic rule he sought suitable amendments to allow lawyers to advertise about their profession. The Bench has adjourned the hearing to September 18.
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