30% of lawyers in India are fake, Bar Council chief says
CHENNAI: In a shocking revelation, Bar Council of India (BCI) chairman Manan Kumar Mishra has said 30% of all lawyers in India are fake, holding fraudulent law degrees. Speaking at Lawyers Meet-2015, organised by BCI in Chennai on Saturday, Mishra said the council, which is statutorily empowered to discipline errant lawyers and take action against them, was in the process of weeding them out.
In BCI’s estimation, about 20% of lawyers were practising in courts without valid law degrees, he said, adding that a law minister of Delhi himself had a fake law degree. Fake lawyers and non-practising law graduates are degrading quality of the profession, Mishra said. “We will filter bad and non-practising lawyers and remove them from the rolls,” he said. Mishra blamed such lawyers for strikes and boycotts being witnessed in various courts for petty and frivolous issues.
The two-time BCI chairman expressed concern that thousands of fake law certificates are being issued and thousands of lawyers, without proper degree, are practicing in courts and tribunals. He said the council has embarked upon the first ever certificate verification exercise, and every enrolled member’s credentials and documents submitted were being verified. “Our verification rules are being implemented in all states, except Karnataka and Kerala, where it is held up because the high courts have passed interim orders,” Mishra said.
Reacting to Mishra’s statement, former judge of the Madras high court Justice K ChandruIt said it will be a colossal work to verify all testimonials of all advocates. Mushrooming professional colleges have made verification of academic qualifications of practising professionals such as doctors and lawyers difficult, he told TOI. It would be good if BCI forms a committee headed by a retired judge, as full-time practising advocates may not find enough time to go through the records, with a mandate to verify all records, he said.
Mishra, in his speech, said BCI’s next target will be establishing National Law Colleges, which will boast of quality better than any of the 1,000-odd law schools in the country. “By the year-end, we will establish them in all parts of the country,” he said.
The Legal Services Authority Act should be amended, so as to vest control of state legal services authorities with lawyers, Mishra said. As of now, the authority is not able to deliver the goods and objects are not being achieved, he said. If lawyers manage and administer legal services authority it will be more fruitful than now, he said, adding, “The issue was brought to Union law minister Sadananda Gowda’s notice, and he has asked BCI to make rules for the purpose.”
But Supreme Court judge Justice V Gopala Gowda, who also spoke at the function, said legal aid scheme was working well and judges and lawyers were striving hard for its success. He found no reason to hand over the authority to lawyers.
Mishra said strikes and boycott of courts by advocates are problems of not just Tamil Nadu, as states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh too witness such protests. BCI has proposed a three-tier disputes resolution mechanism which envisages committees at district-level headed by district judges, high court-level headed by seniormost judge of the high court concerned, and the Supreme Court level. Any dispute will first go to these committees, he said, adding: “We want to resolve problems without strikes of boycotts.”
Fresh law graduates now become magistrates and they are not able to understand and adjudicate issues in front of them, Mishra said. “Earlier, we used to have a condition that two-three years of Bar experience is a must for writing civil judge examinations. The eligibility rule, however, was quashed by the Supreme Court. The council will now file a review plea before the apex court,” he said.
Earlier, co-chairman of BCI and president of Tamil Nadu Advocates Association S Prabakaran said no age restriction should be allowed for acquiring law degrees. The Lawyers Meet-2015 was organised by BCI to discuss public litigation policy, access to justice and environmental laws.