July 25, 2020, Friday
The Supreme Court has reiterated that Lawyers cannot practice any other profession and that they are not allowed to earn a livelihood by any other means. The observation came from a Bench comprising of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna, and Justice V. Ramasubramanian, on Wednesday, while addressing a Suo-moto proceeding in the case regarding the loss of income of lawyers amid the ongoing pandemic and lockdown.
The Bench stated that “We are conscious of the fact that the advocates are bound by Rules which restrict their income only to the profession. They are not permitted to earn a livelihood by any other means.” Rules 47 to 52 of Chapter VII of the Bar Council of India Rules maintain the restrictions on Lawyers from practicing any other profession.
Previously in 1996, the Apex Court in the case of Haniraj L Chulani (Dr.) v. Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, had denied the plea of a doctor to enroll as an Advocate, stating that “a person has to be a full-time advocate or no advocate at all”.
The Court in the present case has issued notices to the Centre, BCI, State Bar Councils, Registrar General of each High Court and recognized High Court Bar Associations. Observing that the present situations arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the legal fraternity, the Apex Court has asked the Respondents to show cause as to why a fund for relief cannot be set up for eligible advocates.
The matter which has been titled In Re: Financial Aid for Members of Bar Affected by Pandemic, is being heard in conjunction with BCI’s plea which states that the BCI itself does not have the funds to aid the lawyers.