The Bar Council of India is a statutory body, established under the Advocates Act, 1961 to oversee the legal practice as well as the legal education in India. It acts as regulatory body, while also conducting the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) to select the individuals who can practice law in the courts of the country. The Council prescribes standards of professional conduct and etiquette and also exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar of India. They also act as representatives of the advocates of India on disputes, aiming to protect their rights, interests and privileges. The Bar Council of India has established many funds for providing financial assistance for these very purposes. The State Bar Councils have been established under Section 3, while the Bar Council of India has been established under Section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961. Section 7 of the Act specifies the functions of the Bar Council. They work in consonance with the respective State Bar Councils. The Current Chairman of the Bar Council is Senior Advocate, Mr. Manan Kumar Mishra.
The history of the concept of Bar Councils dates back to the recommendations of the Chamier Committee and the Indian Bar Councils Act, 1926, through which Bar Councils were established for each of the High Courts with 15 members each. But these councils were merely advisory in nature. After the Independence of the country, in 1950, a resolution was passed by the Bar Council of Madras which advocated the need for establishment of an all India Bar Council and other similar reforms. Then in 1951, after deliberations in the parliament, the All India Bar Committee was established under the Hon’ble Shri S.R. Das, Judge, Supreme Court of India to research upon the issue. The Committee submitted its report to the government in March, 1953 and proposed the setting up of different Bar Councils for each of the states along with an All India Bar Council functioning at the national level. The Law Commission of India was also assigned the job of preparing a report on the reforms on judicial administration.
Based on these recommendations, the Government introduced a bill in the parliament in 1961, which later resulted into the Advocates Act, 1961(Act no. 25 of 1961), under which the Bar Council of India and the respective State Bar Councils were established.
The Advocates Act, 1961
Section 4 of the act establishes the Bar Council of India as given under,
Bar Council of India
(1) There shall be a Bar Council for the territories to which this Act extends to be known as the Bar Council of India which shall consist of the following members, namely:
(a) the Attorney-General of India, ex officio;
(b) the Solicitor-General of India, ex officio;
(c) one member elected by each State Bar Council from amongst its members.
While Section 5 of the act declares the Bar Council of India to be a Body Corporate, which is a formal term for a corporation which is legal entity. Section 7 of the Act specifies the functions of the Councils as given under,
Functions of Bar Council of India
(1) The functions of the Bar Council of India shall be―
(b) to lay down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates;
(c) to lay down the procedure to be followed by its disciplinary committee and the disciplinary committee of each State Bar Council;
(d) to safeguard the rights, privileges and interests of advocates;
(e) to promote and support law reform;
(f) to deal with and dispose of any matter arising under this Act, which may be referred to it by a State Bar Council;
(g) to exercise general supervision and control over State Bar Councils;
(h) to promote legal education and to lay down standards of such education in consultation with the Universities in India imparting such education and the State Bar Councils;
(i) to recognise Universities whose degree in law shall be a qualification for enrolment as an advocateand for that purpose to visit and inspect Universities or cause the State Bar Councils to visit and inspect Universities in accordance with such directions as it may give in this behalf;
(ia) to conduct seminars and organise talks on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals and papers of legal interest;
(ib) to organise legal aid to the poor in the prescribed manner;
(ic) to recognise on a reciprocal basis foreign qualification in law obtained outside India for the purpose of admission as an advocate under this Act;
(j) to manage and invest the funds of the Bar Council;
(k) to provide for the election of its members;
(l) to perform all other functions conferred on it by or under this Act;
(m) to do all other things necessary for discharging the aforesaid functions.
(2) The Bar Council of India may constitute one or more funds in the prescribed manner for the purpose of—
(a) giving financial assistance to organise welfare schemes for indigent, disabled or other advocates;
(b) giving legal aid or advice in accordance with the rules made in this behalf.
(c) establishing law libraries.
(3) The Bar Council of India may receive any grants, donations, gifts or benefactions for all or any of the purposes specified in sub-section (2) which shall be credited to the appropriate fund or funds constituted under that sub-section.
Under Section 24, the Act lays out the requirements for an individual to fulfil to be member of the Council and stipulates that an individual shall be eligible to be enrolled as an advocate on a State roll if he/she meets the below mentioned conditions –
- Is an Indian citizen; a resident of any other nation can be permitted as an advocate on a State roll provided Indian citizens who are duly qualified, are authorized to practice law in that nation, subject to other limitations.
- Is a minimum of 21 years of age.
- Has obtained a law degree after completing a law course of minimum two years, from any university within India that is recognised for the objective and intent of the Act by the Bar Council. In a few cases, an advocate who has gained a degree from any University outside India, and if the degree is recognised for the objective and intent of this Act by the Council, he/she may be admitted.
- Satisfies such other prerequisites stipulated in the rules made by Bar Council.
Also, the Individual has to enrol himself under the respective State Bar Council, pay the respective dues and clear the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) to be eligible. The Bar Examination can be taken by any Individual who is an Indian Citizen, has completed his legal education, and is on the rolls of the respective State Bar Council. There is no defined Age Limit or limit on the number of attempts. The Advocates Act also empowers the State Bar Councils to make their own rules regarding the eligibility of individuals.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Bar Council of India?
The Bar Council of India is a statutory body established under the Advocates Act, 1961 to act as a regulatory body for the legal profession and education in India as well being the representatives of the legal profession.
When and How was the Bar Council of India established?
The Bar Council of India was established under Section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961 on the recommendations of the All India Bar Committee in 1961 to operate on a national level along with the respective State Bar Councils.
What are the main functions of the Bar Council?
The main functions of the Bar Council of India as specifies under Section 7 of the Advocates Act are to act in the interest of the advocates, to bring in legal reform, to regulate the conduct of advocates, to establish funds and to oversee the Legal Education in the country among others.
Edited by Shikhar Shrivastava
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
 The Bar Council of India, About the Council, http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/about/about-the-bar-council-of-india/ (last visited Jan 27, 2020, 2:49 PM (IST)).
 The Bar Council of India, History, http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/about/about-the-bar-council-of-india/history/(last visited Jan 27, 2020,7:32 PM (IST)).
The Advocates Act, 1961, No. 25, §4 (India).
The Advocates Act, 1961, No. 25, §7 (India).