SUPREME COURT DIRECTS BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA AND STATE BAR COUNCILS TO DISPOSE OF COMPLAINTS IN ONE YEAR
A Division Bench of the Hon’ble #SupremeCourt comprising of Justice M.R Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna in the matter of K. Anjinppa versus K.C Krishna Reddy arising out of Civil Appellate Jurisdiction (Civil Appeal No. 7478 of 2019) passed a #Judgment dated 17.12.2021 and directed the Bar Council of India (#BCI) to dispose of #complaints, that were filed against #Advocates before State Bar Council but remained pending for more than one year and later, transferred to BCI, in an expeditious manner, i.e. within one year. To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Disciplinary Committee of BCI may even hold circuit hearings.
In this case, a Complaint was filed by one, K. Anjinappa (Appellant) against his Advocate before the Bar Council of State of Andhra Pradesh (State Bar Council). Under Section 36B of the Advocates Act 1961 (Act), the State Bar Council is duty bound to dispose of a complaint in an expeditious manner, i.e. within a period of one year from the date of receipt of complaint. However, in this case, the State Bar Council did not dispose of the aforesaid Complaint within the stipulated one year time period. Hence, the said Complaint was transferred to the Bar Council of India (BCI), in terms of Section 36B of the Act. Section 36 B of the Act is reproduced below for easy reference:
36B. Disposal of disciplinary proceedings
(1) The disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council shall dispose of the complaint received by it under section 35 expeditiously and in each case the proceedings shall be concluded within a period of one year from the date of the receipt of the complaint or the date of initiation of the proceedings at the instance of the State Bar Council, as the case may be, failing which such proceedings shall stand transferred to the Bar Council of India which may dispose of the same as if it were a proceeding withdrawn for inquiry under sub-section (2) of section 36.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where on the commencement of the Advocates (Amendment) Act, 1973 (60 of 1973), any proceedings in respect of any disciplinary matter against an advocate is pending before the disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council, that disciplinary committee of the State Bar Council shall dispose of the same within a period of six months from the date of such commencement or within a period of one year from the date of the receipt of the complaint or, as the case may be, the date of initiation of the proceedings at the instance of the State Bar Council, whichever is later, failing which such proceedings shall stand transferred to the Bar Council of India for disposal under sub-section (1)
The BCI Disciplinary Committee then dismissed the Complaint, vide Order dated 12.12.2015, on the ground that the Complaint was filed by two Complainants, namely, Shri K. Anjinappa, the Appellant herein and Shri S. Lakshmi Narayana, but the said Complaint was not signed by Shri S. Lakshmi Narayana.
Aggrieved, the Appellant filed an Appeal before the Supreme Court. The Apex Court passed a Judgment dated 17.12.2021 and made the following observations:
- That while dealing with this case, the Supreme Court called upon BCI to place on record about details of cases during the last five years, where the complaints were transferred from the concerned State Bar Council(s) to BCI and details of cases, where the transferred complaints / cases have been decided and disposed of.
- That as per the data provided by BCI, more than 1200 complaints were pending for disposal. The Apex Court remarked that it was the duty of the Councils to improve its functioning on the disciplinary side. Noting that 1273 complaints were pending before BCI, the Supreme Court said that it is just and necessary that a way should be found for disposal of the said complaints in accordance with the prescribed procedure.
- That BCI also has to issue suitable directions to the State Bar Council(s) to conclude the proceedings arising out complaints filed against Advocates within a period of one year as per Section 36B of the Act. As the said provision does not aim to encourage delay in disposal of complaint, so as to enable the complaints to be transferred to BCI by operation of law and thereby increase the burden on BCI. Further, in case of transfer of complaint to BCI, the Bar Council of India shall also dispose of the transferred complaints within a period of one year from receipt of such transferred proceedings.
- That as far as the present case is concerned, it was reported that the Complaint had been eventually disposed of by the State Bar Council by Order dated 11.03.2017 against which a Revision Application is also pending before BCI.
Thus, based on the aforesaid grounds, the Apex Court held that no further orders were required to be passed and hence, the Appeal was disposed of.
The Indian Lawyer and Allied Services