Allahabad Aug 24(ILNS): The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court ordered the conduct of the Awadh Bar Election on September 25.
The division bench comprising of Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Dinesh Kumar Singh passed this order while hearing a suo motu PIL on Unruly Behaviour & Breach Of Protocol During Awadh Bar Election.
The Court said, “Advocates act as officers of the court and public servants. They play a key role in the development and dispute processing activities and above all in the building up of a just society and constitutional order. A lawyer is obligated to rise to the expectation of him being a member of society worthy of the community in him as a vehicle of social justice.
It is aptly said that ‘the Lawyers play a critical role in promoting social peace by applying the law’. ‘The Court of law are the ‘shrines of justice’ and lawyers are the sinister Courts of justice robed in the priestly garments of truth, honour & integrity.
It is also said that ‘lawyers play an indispensable role in the mechanism of administration of justice. ‘The Advocates, as members of the Bar and Officers of the Court, have the responsibility of keeping the stream of justice pure and unsullied’.
However, when the advocates indulge themselves in unruly, indecent and undemocratic behavior, it poorly reflects on the image of the Institution where they are practicing and brings down the prestige and dignity of the Institution concerned.
In the matter, the election of Awadh Bar Association held on August 14, 2021 in the premises of the High Court, Lucknow, unruly, indecent and rustic behavior and beach of the protocol by some of the lawyers lead to ultimately cancellation of election which had caused the security issues in the premises of the High Court and the Officers and Police were compelled to intervene to maintain the decorum.
The Court have taken suo moto cognizance of the incident that occurred on August 14, 2021 in the premises of the High Court and feel proper to issue certain directions for the purpose of streamlining the process of election to be held in the future so as to maintain purity of democratic process of the Bar election in the High Court.
H.G.S. Parihar, Senior Advocate and outgoing President, Awadh Bar Association as well as Sharad Pathak, outgoing General Secretary of Awadh Bar Association have informed the court that the Awadh Bar Association had passed a resolution dated January 11, 2021 for amendment in the registered Bye-laws.
The amendment was sent to the U.P. Bar Council for its information and acceptance/approval vide letter dated January 17, 2021 which has been duly received in the U.P. Bar Council, however, no information thereafter has been received in this regard by the Awadh Bar Association.
Parihar has further submitted that the Deputy Registrar, Firms Societies & Chits, Lucknow has also been sent a letter for filing the amendment in the registered Bye-laws of the Society.
Submission is that as per amended Bye-laws only such Members of the Bar Association who possess the certificate of practice mentioning place of practice as High Court, Lucknow and Membership of Awadh Bar Association shall be treated to be regular and active practitioners of the High Court.
From perusal of the report of the Returning Officer, it is evidently clear that several outsiders along with candidates and their supporters had barged-in in the polling area and the ballot papers were torn out. Several voters found that their vote was already casted when they reached the polling centre to cast their vote. The unruly Advocates got into scrimmage with Lady Members and Senior Advocates and Police personnel. The election of the Bar had lost its sanctity and purity, the Court said.
Ashok Nigam, Senior Advocate and Chairman, Elders’ Committee and all the Members of the Elders’ Committee who all are designated Senior Advocates have sought the intervention of the Court and requested the Court to formulate the scheme for streamlining the proper election of Awadh Bar Association. It has been vociferously said that only regular practitioners of the High Court should be allowed to participate in the election and be eligible to cast their votes.
The Court observed that there is a consensus among the majority of the Members of the Awadh Bar Association including all the Senior Advocates present in the Court that only regular practitioners of the High Court, Lucknow should be allowed to participate in the election of the Awadh Bar Association. The regular practitioners shall be only those persons who have a certificate of practice issued by the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh having normal place of practice as High Court Lucknow and valid membership of Awadh Bar Association, High Court, Lucknow having paid the dues of the Bar Association upto February 28, 2021. He should be an Advocate on the Roll of the High Court.
It has also been submitted by all the Advocates that the Court may be pleased to fix the minimum number of appearances and/or minimum number of filing of cases in a year for the purpose of defining a regular practitioner in the High Court, Lucknow.
It is also submitted that the minimum number of appearances and/or minimum number of filings in a year shall be counted for at least three preceding years before the year of election.
The Court further observed that, considering the broad consensus amongst the Members of the Bar and suggestions given to us in writing and to maintain the purity of democratic process in the Bar elections so that the elected body truly represents the Bar of the High Court at Lucknow, the Court fixed the following mandatory conditions for a Member of Awadh Bar Association to participate in the election 2021 either for the purpose of contesting the election or casting his/her vote:-
(i) He/She shall have a valid certificate of practice issued by the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh having the normal place of practice as ‘High Court Lucknow’. The certificate of practice having a mention of place/name of Bar Association (if any) where the Advocate is entitled to vote in the election of Bar Association – Awadh Bar Association, High Court, Lucknow-
(ii) Advocate on Roll of the High Court.
(iii) Clearance of dues of the Awadh Bar Association as on 28.2.2021; and
(iv) Shall be a regular practitioner of the High Court, Lucknow. Explanation: For the purpose of regular practitioner, the person shall have minimum 20 filings of cases in a year in the last three years i.e., 2018, 2019 and 2020. 20 filings would include filings for petitioner(s) and respondent(s) both.
1. Senior Advocates, State Government/Union Government Counsel (on Criminal or Civil side) shall be exempted from the above conditions of minimum number of filing of the cases in a year.
2. Mediators in the Mediation and Conciliation Center, High Court, Lucknow as well as panel Amicus Curiae approved by the High Court Registry shall be exempted from the condition minimum number of filing of cases in a year.
3. All those Advocates, who have completed 40 years of practice and Member of Awadh Bar Association from last 30 years shall also be exempted from minimum filing of cases in a year.
(v) A Member of Awadh Bar Association who is resident of Lucknow and fulfills the above conditions shall only be allowed to participate in the election.
(vi) Any Member of Awadh Bar Association who has contested the election of any Bar other than the Awadh Bar Association during any of the years from 2018, 2019 and 2020 shall not be allowed to contest the election and/or attend the General Meeting of Awadh Bar Association.
vii) A declaration be taken from every member desirous of casting his/her vote in the Awadh Bar Association Election that he/she would be bound to cast his/her vote only in the Awadh Bar Association and in no other Bar Association. The provision should be made in the Rules of Awadh Bar Association to permanently debar a person from Membership of Awadh Bar Association whose declaration is found incorrect.
(viii) On the principle of ‘one Bar one vote’ a person who had casted his vote in any election to the Executive Committee of any Bar Association other than Awadh Bar Association in the last three years shall not be entitled to vote in the Awadh Bar Association election, 2021.
(ix) Fresh security deposit should be required to be furnished by all candidates seeking elections to the General Body of the Awadh Bar Association.
(x) with a view to regular entry of voters the Returning Officer should open some counters in the premises of the Awadh Bar Association where intending voters may present their credentials and after due verification voter card should be issued/sent on the Whatsapp of the Member.
xi) On the date of election only such persons shall be allowed entry who possess valid voter cards.
The Court ordered that the voter list of regular practitioners shall be prepared within one week from today and it shall be published on the website of Awadh Bar Association inviting objections, if any. The objections to the voter list shall be submitted within one week thereafter. The final voter list shall be published after two weeks from the date of publication of the tentative list. The schedule of holding of election including filing of nomination and withdrawal of nomination and holding of election shall be put on the website of the Awadh Bar Association. The voters shall be issued the voter slip through E-mail and in this regard intimation shall be given on their mobile phone through Whatsapp/SMS.
The Elders’ Committee shall consider constituting a team of seven or eight members as observers for holding the election and one Member of Awadh Bar Association shall be appointed as Returning Officer for the purpose of election.
The election shall be held on September 25, 2021 and the counting of votes shall be done on September 26, 2021 and the result shall be declared thereafter.
The aforesaid directions shall be complied with by the Elders’ Committee of the Awadh Bar Association while holding the election of Awadh Bar Association for the year 2021.
Guidelines issued by the Court:-
(I) The U.P. Bar Council shall issue necessary circular or order implementing the principle of ‘one Bar one Vote’.
(II) The U.P. Bar Council shall direct all the registered Bar Associations to put on their website/notice board the names of members who have casted their vote in the last three years i.e., 2018, 2019 and 2020.
III) The Central Bar Association, Lucknow Bar Association, State Public Services Tribunal Bar Association, Central Administrative Tribunal Bar Association and Armed Forces Tribunal Bar Association are directed to put on their website/notice board the list of members who have casted their vote in last three elections i.e., 2018, 2019 and 2020.
(IV) The Elders’ Committee, Awadh Bar Association shall formulate ‘code of conduct’ for elections keeping in view the recommendations and directions issued today.
V) Canvassing by distribution of visiting cards/cards, pamphlets or posters should be prohibited in the elections of the Awadh Bar Association. Distribution of lunch packets, refreshment, etc. should not be allowed either before or during the election and all those who are found distributing such things should be debarred from contesting elections. Hosting or arranging dinner parties for canvassing for elections should be prohibited.
(VI) Senior Registrar or any other Officer deputed by him in consultation with the Elders’ Committee shall debar such Members of Awadh Bar Association from participating the ensuing election who may be found having indulged in misbehaviour and disrupting the process of election on August 14, 2021 while the polling was in process, after due verification of the complaints received and perusal of video clipping and such other evidence as may be available.
“The direction issued shall be complied within three days from today. The non-compliance of the order shall be treated to be disobedience of the orders of the High Court and would be dealt with accordingly.
All the respondents-Bar Associations as well as U.P. Bar Council are directed to file their counter affidavits within four weeks”, the order said.
The Court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on September 27, 2021./ILNS/AP/SNG