Lawyers who are currently practising in the relevant court are eligible to vote in Bar Association elections: SC

Lawyers who are currently practising in the relevant court are eligible to vote in Bar Association elections: SC

 The Supreme Court stated that the only lawyers who are legitimately and regularly practising before the concerned court shall be allowed to vote in elections to elect office-bearers of such court’s Bar Associations.

 A Bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna concluded that outsiders who do not routinely practise before the concerned court cannot be allowed to participate in the election process of electing members of the Bar organisation.

 The order said that “office-bearers of the Bar Association shall be elected by legitimate voters and advocates genuinely/regularly practising in the High Court and/or the Court concerned.”

 The Court was hearing an appeal against the Allahabad High Court’s Division Bench’s orders in a suo moto case stemming from incidences of aggressive and disruptive behaviour by several attorneys during the Awadh Bar Association’s annual meeting on August 14.

 The elections were cancelled by the High Court, which ordered that new elections be held.

 The Supreme Court ruled that there was no need for the Apex Court to intervene with directives aimed at keeping the election pure.

 The petitioners favoured the petition, claiming that the High Court was not justified in calling new elections since returning over 4,500 members to vote would be impossible, especially during the COVID pandemic.

 The Bench did remark, however, that there was no need for the Supreme Court to overturn the High Court decision because it was issued to ensure the integrity of the Bar elections and because of the unique characteristics of the case.

The Bench further stated that no member of the Bar may be allowed to misbehave on the grounds of the High Court and that lawyers’ conduct during elections cannot be tolerated or acceptable. 

“The way the lawyers acted and misbehaved on August 14, 2021, in the High Court premises, where the Awadh Bar Association election was taking place, cannot be condoned and accepted and must be condemned.”

The Bench also examined the Supreme Court’s decision in R. Muthukrishnan vs. Registrar General, High Court of Judicature at Madras, in which the Court emphasised the importance of the Bar and its role in the administration of justice. 

However, because the case was still pending, the Court refrained from commenting further on the occurrence.