Can a Person be Enrolled as an Advocate Without giving up his Job?

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an SLP filed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) assailing the 2020 Gujarat High Court judgement that allowed people working part-time/full time to enroll as Advocate without resigning from their current jobs.

The Bench of Justices SK Kaul and MM Sundresh refused to grant the BCI’s prayer of staying the High Court judgement. 

The court agreed to issue the matter in detail as it will have wider ramifications and appointed Senior Counsel K Vishwanathan as the Amicus Curiae. The next date of hearing is 25/01/2022.

In the judgement under challenge, the Gujarat High Court had read down Rule 1 & 2 of Gujarat Bar Council Enrollment Rules according to which people from other professions are not allowed to enroll as a lawyer. 

However, the High Court clarified that people will have to submit a declaration stating they have left their jobs or their enrolment certificate will be held by the State Bar Council.

At outset, the Bench raised the issue of how a person can be asked to resign before the Bar exam as if the person fails to clear the exam then will not have the option to go back to their old jobs. As per the court, people should not be stopped from becoming professionals.

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BCI’s counsel Advocate SN Bhat submitted that there is a qualitative distinction in a member who has been admitted to the Bar. He also said that it is difficult to monitor such a situation.

The Bench asked the counsel if the petitioner has taken the Bar exam. The counsel replied that the petitioner has cleared the Bar exam and the Gujarat Bar Council has not challenged the same.

After hearing the submissions and going through the prayer, the Court refused to grant the ex-parte stay and opined that the case has wider ramifications and the Bench is inclined to hear the case.

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