SCBA membership compulsory for lawyers to get allotment of a Chamber in Supreme Court: SC

Team SoOLEGAL 26 Oct 2018 4:30pm

SCBA membership compulsory for lawyers to get allotment of a Chamber in Supreme Court: SC

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the condition that makes it compulsory for lawyers to be members of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) for getting allotment of Lawyers’ chamber in the top court.

A Bench comprising AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions challenging the various provisions of the Lawyers’ Chambers (Allotment and Occupancy) Rules.

Furthermore, the bench opined on several issues raised in the writ petitions as follows:

  1. SCBA Membership as a criterion for Chamber Allotment in SC

The validity of the condition of SCBA membership is specified in Clause 3 of the Lawyers Chambers (Allotment and Occupancy) Rules.

The said rule was challenged by the petitioner, Senior Advocate V Mohana, on the grounds that it violates Articles 14, 19(1)(c) and 19(1) (g) of the Constitution. In addition, the petitioners submitted that a person who is a member of Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) should be sufficient for making that person eligible for allotment of chambers.

Read more: Senior Advocate Challenges Supreme Court’s Chamber Allotment Criteria

The SC bench, however, noted that in order to become a member of SCAORA, as stated by Rule 4 of the Rules and Regulations of SCAORA itself, it is compulsory for an advocate to be a member of the SCBA. Hence, the bench discarded the argument of violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, observing:

Therefore, unless an advocate is an AOR and also a member of SCBA, he cannot become the member of SCAORA. This requirement itself accepts the position that SCBA is an umbrella organisation and also recognises the vital role it plays. Thus, the argument based on Article 14 of the Constitution would be of no avail.”

  1. Residence in Delhi

Another issue raised in the petition challenged the provision that in order to become eligible for allotment of a chamber, an advocate needs to be a resident of Delhi or New Delhi.

In this connection, the petitioners argued that because of exponential growth in the population of Delhi in the last few years had compelled people to shift to nearby areas, like Noida or Ghaziabad, Faridabad or Gurugram. It was then submitted that the mere purpose behind said provision was that to ensure that the advocate practicing in the Supreme Court is readily available.

The petitioners further said that considering that some of the aforesaid areas are closer to the Supreme Court than Delhi, the aforesaid provision has lost its rationality and purpose.

The SC bench accepted the same and held that:

It is time to reconsider as to whether requirement of residence in Delhi or New Delhi in Rule 3 of the Allotment Rules needs to be retained or it should be extended to some areas of neighbouring States which are quite close to the vicinity of the Supreme Court. May be, by fixing a particular radial distance from the Supreme Court, the problem can be tackled…we are of the opinion that this issue can be considered by the Judges' Allotment Committee.”

  1. Change of Block Period

Another major issue that the Court handled was regarding the fixation of block period from June 01, 2011 to June 30, 2016 for which the requirement of filing and/or appearance has to be fulfilled.

The Court changed the block period to October 01, 2013 to September 30, 2018, instead of June 01, 2011 to June 30, 2016.

Read the judgment here.  

Tagged: Chamber Allotment   Lawyers Chamber Block   SCAORA   SCBA   Senior Advocate V Mohana   Justice AK Sikri   Justice Ashok Bhushan   Supreme Court     
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