The State Bar Councils are statutory bodies established under Section 3 of the Advocates Act, 1961. These were set up as different councils for the states and union territories of India. They act as regulatory bodies, making rules for the legal profession and education in their respective states and also act as the representatives of the advocates of that state, thereby acting in their interests. Section 6 of the Advocates Act, 1961 also lays out the functions to be performed by the State Councils in their respective states. They work in coordination with and under the supervision of the Bar Council of India, which is a national body established under Section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961.
The history of Bar Councils goes back to the British era when on the recommendations of the Chamier Committee and through the Indian Bar Councils Act, 1926, Bar Councils were established for the then High Courts. But these Councils only worked in an advisory capacity under the magistrates of the respective courts.
After the independence of the country, to overhaul the council system, on the recommendations of the All India Bar Committee formed in 1951 under the Hon’ble Shri S.R. Das, Judge, Supreme Court of India and the reports of the Law Commission of India, the Advocates Act was passed in the parliament, establishing the State Bar Councils along with the Bar Council of India in 1961. Although, State Bar Councils for all states were not established in 1961 itself, the 1961 Act was only established them for a few states. Some of them were added by later amendments to the same Act and with the creation of new states such as Uttarakhand and Telangana, their Bar Councils were also established later. And for the Union Territories, with the exception of the Union Territory of Delhi, no State Bar Councils were separately established.
The Advocates Act, 1961
Section 3 of the Advocates Act establishes the State Bar Councils for the States and Union Territories mentioned in the Section 3 (1), while Section 3 (2), defines the membership of these state councils. The later sub-clauses define the chairmanship, vice chairmanship, the grounds for disqualification and other related matters.
Section 7 of the Act elaborates upon the functions that are to be performed by the State Bar Councils and the funds that are constituted by it for various purposes. This is discussed in detail below –
1. The State Bar Councils are empowered to admit persons as advocates on roll and maintain such roll.
2. They act upon the complaints made regarding the misconduct of advocates on its roll.
3. The State Bar Councils are responsible for the growth and promotion of the Bar Associations so that it can effectively administer its functions.
4. The State Bar Councils need to bring in reform in the Legal Profession.
5. They organise and conduct various talks, seminars, workshops, conferences on various topics by eminent to jurists to better equip the Bar and publish Legal journals and other materials to keep the Bar updated of the latest developments in the field.
6. The State Bar Councils organize legal aid for the poor and downtrodden and also manage the funds allocated to or raised by it.
7. They are also tasked with conducting periodic elections for its various posts and also ensure that these are conducted in a free and fair manner.
8. The State Bar Councils also regulate the Legal Education imparted in the respective State Universities.
Apart from this, the State Bar Councils are also empowered under Section 6 (2) of the act to constitute funds for many purposes including –
1. For giving financial assistance for welfare schemes meant for the indigent, disabled or other deserving advocates.
2. For providing Legal Aid or Advice to the people who need.
3. For establishing Law Libraries in the State.
Section 8 of the act elucidates the lengths of terms of persons holding office in the State Bar Councils while Section 24 defines the minimum qualifications for eligibility for membership of these councils. The State Councils are also empowered to make rules, which need to approved by the Bar Council of India, to carry on the purposes under Sections 16 to 28 (Chapter III).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the State Bar Councils?
The State Bar Councils are statutory bodies established under the Advocates Act, 1961 which act as the representatives of the advocates of the respective states and also act as the regulatory body for the legal profession and education.
When and How were the State Bar Councils established?
The State Bar Councils were established under Section 3 of the Advocates Act, 1961 on the recommendations of the All India Bar Committee in 1961 to operate on a state level along with the Bar Council of India, which is a national level body. These have been regularly amended and new councils have been established by amendments to the act.
What are the main functions of the State Bar Councils?
The main functions of the State Bar Councils as specified under Section 6 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 respective states among others.
Edited by Shikhar Shrivastava
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
 SRD Law Notes, The Constitution, Functions and Powers of State Bar Councils, https://www.srdlawnotes.com/2017/02/the-constitution-powers-and-functions.html (last visited 29 Jan 2020, 3:45 PM (IST)).
 The Advocates Act, 1961, No. 25, §3 (India).
The Advocates Act, 1961, No. 25, §6 (India).