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Report No. 266


Background - Inception of the Legal Profession

1.1 The dawn of Legal Profession in our country could be seen in the Indian High Courts Act, 1861 (commonly known as the Charter Act) which authorised establishment of the High Courts under the Letters Patent and those Letters Patent empowered the High Courts to make rules for enrolment of Advocates and attorneys who were also known as solicitors. In the early days three Acts, namely, the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879 (18 of 1879), the Bombay Pleaders Act, 1920 (17 of 1920) and the Indian Bar Councils Act, 1926 (38 of 1926) relating to legal Practitioners were enacted.

The importance of legal profession in the Judicial Administration while dispensing justice with the aid of those who could effectively present the case of a litigant, was designed to usher in bringing the rule of law. The legal profession was acknowledged as the noble profession as it catered to, and contributed to lay the firm foundations of a system that dispenses fair and impartial justice. The desire of common man to receive justice was taken care of by making provisions for the presentation of a case and its redressal through persons in whom trust was reposed.

1.2 Roscoe Pound, an eminent jurist states that "historically, there are three ideas involved in a profession: organization, learning, and a spirit of public service."1 While considering these elements essential, he states that the idea of gaining a livelihood through profession is nothing more than an incidental element. However, amongst the three elements, the most important with regards to a profession is the spirit of public service. The ethical compunctions of the professionals are similarly exemplified in a European Union Directive in which "liberal professions" were described as "those practised on the basis of relevant professional qualifications in a personal, responsible and professionally independent capacity by those providing intellectual and conceptual services in the interest of the client and the public"2

(emphasis added).

1.3 In this background, the founding fathers of our Constitution while adopting a federal governmental system, entrusted a duty on the judiciary to strike a balance between the functioning of the other organs of the Government while protecting the life and liberty of the citizens. With the avowed objective of conforming to the rule of law and dispensation of justice as contained in it, the elements of a perfect system of constituting courts on different tiers together with the system of advocates in the legal profession, who have been conferred with right to practice under the Constitution which now stands embedded in the Advocates Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the Advocates Act).

Advocates Act, 1961 - Regulation of Legal Profession Back

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