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Advocates are not permitted to earn a livelihood by any other means: SC

BAR COUNCIL OF INDIA V. UNION OF INDIA & ORS. – Writ Petition(s)(Civil) No(s). 686/2020,  AND  IN RE : FINANCIAL AID FOR MEMBERS OF BAR AFFECTED BY PANDEMIC. – SUO MOTO WRIT PETITION © NO. 8 of 2020

The bench consisting of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian reiterated that the advocates are bound by Rules which restrict their income only to the profession. They are not permitted to earn a livelihood by any other means.

The Honorable Court stated as:

“In these dire circumstance there is a constant demand to enable the resumption of the income from the profession by resuming the normal functioning of Courts in congregation. This demand poses its own difficulties in the sense that an unqualified resumption of normal Courts may jeopardize the health of all those who attend Courts in congregation, i.e., Judges, Lawyers and equally important, the Staff of the Courts.”

The bench observed that:

“we find that it is not possible to ignore the problem of livelihood of advocates. We therefore consider it appropriate, in the interest of justice, to issue notice to the recognized Bar Associations of the Supreme Court and of all the High Courts to show cause why a fund for relief to eligible and deserving advocates should not be set up and donations for the same be invited from their own members or any other legitimate source. It would also be necessary to determine the norms for eligibility of such financial aid by the Bar Associations.”

The Honorable apex court issue notice to the Union of India, State Governments/Union Territories, Bar Council of India and all the State Bar Councils regarding the same. And ordered that the notice be made returnable in two weeks.

Rules 47 to 52 of Chapter VII of the Bar Counsel of India Rules impose restriction on other employment.

Rule 47 reads as

“47. An advocate SHALL NOT PERSONALLY ENGAGE in any business; but he may be a sleeping partner in a firm doing business provided that in the opinion of the appropriate State Bar Council, the nature of the business is not inconsistent with the dignity of the profession.”

Rule 49 Reads as

“49. An advocate shall not be a full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as he continues to practise, and shall, on taking up any such employment, intimate the fact to the Bar Council on whose roll his name appears and shall thereupon cease to practise as an advocate so long as he continues in such employment”

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