SC Pulls Up J&K High Court: ‘Why Are You Not Forming Bar Council’

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir for failure to hold elections to the Bar Council of the State in accordance with the provisions of Advocates Act, 1961. 

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Bhim Singh in the Court asked the High Court, the State government and the Bar Council of India (BCI) to respond in the matter and listed it for tomorrow for further hearing. 

The crux of the issue is that the High Court of J&K has been functioning as the Bar Council of J& K in accordance with the transitory arrangement provided under Section 58 of the Act and no initiative has been taken to constitute the Bar Council by holding elections in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Alleging that the denial to lawyers' fraternity of J&K to have a democratically elected Bar Council amounted to violation of fundamental rights under Article 14, 19, 21 as well as the provisions of the Act, Bhim Singh had prayed for a direction to “constitute a Bar Council of J&K at par with Bar Councils in other States.”

When the matter came up for hearing today before a Division Bench comprising Justice TS Thakur and Justice AK Goel, Justice Thakur came down upon the High Court in very strong words.

 “The Act came into force [in J&K] in 1986. Till now, you have not framed Rules or done anything. What is your problem? Why are you not constituting a Bar Council?” demanded Justice Thakur.

Both State government and the High Court, however, seemed keen to keep their hands off the responsibility submitting that it was not their duty to constitute a Bar Council.

Justice Goel then went on to observe that it was the duty of the High Court to constitute the Bar Council for the State.

Justice Thakur proceeded to remark, “This is most undesirable. You have been sleeping over it for thirty years. Who will do it? The High Court acting as the Bar Council is only a transitory arrangement. It cannot go on forever. This is a statutory body. It should be constituted and allowed to function as a democratic institution.”

The Court then sought the response of the High Court and the other Respondents in the matter and listed it for tomorrow.

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