TN Bar council's new sanitation drive? Removing 7,000 bogus lawyers off its rolls

The ongoing verification of certificates has exposed two types of fraud
TN Bar council's new sanitation drive? Removing 7,000 bogus lawyers off its rolls
TN Bar council's new sanitation drive? Removing 7,000 bogus lawyers off its rolls
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After the lawyer unrest, Tamil Nadu has to brace itself for more shocks on the legal front. In an alarming revelation, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry has said that more than 7,000 lawyers on its rolls could be bogus and their certificates fake.

The ongoing verification of certificates, being done as mandated by the Bar Council of India and Madras HC, has exposed two types of fraud: One, thousands of certificates are missing and the persons `enrolled' on the basis of these certificates are either untraceable or not responding to Bar Council's letters. Two, officials have stumbled upon bogus certificates during certificate verification, and police complaints have been filed. There is a third category of people who have done law on the basis of their `direct' masters degree (MA) under open university scheme, which is not permissible as per Supreme Court ruling.

Though on record Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have a combined lawyer strength of 90,000, only 16,000 have submitted their certificates for verification, said Bar Council of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry chairman D Selvam. “Despite the original deadline ending by June 30 this year, not many have responded to our call though it is mandatory now. The Supreme Court has now extended the date by another three months. This unwillingness might be indicating high incidence of illegal enrolment done in the past,“ he said.

“We have found that more than 2,000 files of enrolled candidates `missing' for the period between 1961 and 1985. For the period from 1985 to 2016 several hundred more cases of `missing' documents are expected,“ said S Prabakaran, co-chairman of Bar Council of India (BCI). BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra's recent claim that more than 30% of lawyers in India are fake could turn out to be true, he said. “We suspect that many of these lawyers fuel the ongoing lawyers unrest for their own safety,” he said.

Worried by high incidence of bogus lawyers, the BCI directed all state Bar councils to verify certificates of new candidates as well as those who had already been enrolled. In August 21, 2015 the bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul passed a judicial order asking the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to verify documents.

Previously, The Bar Council of India suspended 126 lawyers of Tamil Nadu and prohibited them from practising in any court or tribunal in the country pursuant to its warning that it will suspend those who indulge in boycott and other activities.

The BCI's action comes in the wake of an announcement by the Joint Action Committee of various bar associations to stage a sit-in at the Madras High Court in Chennai, High Court bench in Madurai and subordinate courts on July 25, protesting the recently amended rules to Advocates Act.

The JAC had said they would not allow anyone, even judges, to enter the campus. The next morning, lawyers gathered for a protest outside the Indian Oil station opposite China Bazaar, a kilometer away from the Madras High Court. Heavy police presence marked the area, with police outnumbering the protesting lawyers at around 9.30am. Slogans of “Bar Council down down” and “CJ Kaul down down” could be heard, with the protesting lawyers demanding that the Chief Justice, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, step down from his post.

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