SC seeks BCI’s reply

NEW DELHI, July 14: The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from Bar Council of India seeking permission for lawyers to use advertisement to solicit work and to resort to alternate sources of income to earn their livelihood during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna issued notices to the BCI and sought its response within two weeks.
Petitioner advocate Charanjeet Chanderpal in his plea said that due to COVID-19 induced lockdown and restricted functioning of the courts, many lawyers have lost their sources of income, due to which many of them are under depression or have ended their lives.
Under the Advocates Act, 1961, there are several restrictions on practicing lawyers in taking up other sources of employment and empowers the BCI to frame rules regulating standards of professional conduct.
As per the BCI rules, “An advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned”.
Chanderpal has sought directions to BCI, the apex body of lawyers regulating legal profession, to amend the rules for granting relaxation to the advocates due to situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic.
He has sought a direction to BCI for permitting advocates to advertise through limited and specific sources to solicit chamber work like taxation or registration work.
In his plea, he also sought clarification regarding a practising lawyer’s position as a “sleeping partner” or “sleeping director” in an organization and effectively clarify Chapter III Rule 2 of the Rules so that advocates may be employed as legal advisors on a retainer basis.
He also sought nod for advocates for taking up alternative sources of livelihood and income to sustain themselves, albeit with an undertaking to be provided that the same shall not continue beyond March of 2021. (PTI)