A 28-year old advocate has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the exorbitant fees worth Rs 16,400 charged from the new advocates to enroll themselves. The respondents are expected to submit their replies by November 5.
While hearing the matter, a division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli has issued a notice to the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana High and Barc Council of India.
“Advocates Act, 1961, is the primary legislation governing legal practitioners in India. It inter-alia governs aspects pertaining to constitution of Bar Councils, admission and enrolment of advocates, their rights to practice and their conduct,” stated the petitioner’s counsel Padhuman Garg.
He further submitted that under section 24 (1) (f) of the Advocates Act, 1961, a person has to pay Rs 600 to the state bar council and Rs 150 to the Bar Council of India in order to enroll as an advocate. In case the applicant belongs to the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe category, the enrollment fee payable to the state bar council is Rs 100 and for BCI, it is Rs 25.
In contrary to the legislative mandate, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana used to charge exorbitant enrollment fees. State bar council used to charge an additional fee of Rs 8,600 as enrolment fee, Rs 1050 to Bar Council of India, Rs 1,000 as the building fund, and Rs 5,000 towards welfare and insurance fund. And in case an applicant wants to get himself/herself enrolled the same day, the state bar council used to charge an additional amount worth Rs 5,000 toward the circulation fee.
The petitioner argued, “In addition to the prohibition as prescribed by the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961, even the Bar Council of India rules do not permit state bar councils to levy such an additional fee towards enrolment and circulation fee.”