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Report No. 266

Chapter -IV

Period of Aberration

4.1 The opening of new vistas in the legal profession has brought with it the inherent problems of deficiency in professionalism, ethical decline and lack of devotion. The inter-rivalry between professionalism and competition with a materialistic approach in a growing society affected by social, political and economic changes has led to the legal profession acquiring a mantle that it did not possess long before. The fraternity of advocates had in the past actively been participating on all social fronts but this dimension has now become multi-faceted. This holistic form of participation in all walks of life, therefore, demands more responsibility and obligations requiring observance of moral and ethical values for preserving the basic ethos of this legal profession.

4.2 In recent years, the role of advocates, particularly in the dispensation of justice through courts of law, has come under sharp criticism and is being viewed as an eyesore by the public. A news item published in the Indian Express dated 09 March 2009, titled 'Laws for Lawyers', spoke of the crumbling regulatory structure after having witnessed a decline in the conduct of advocates; and lawyers that was unprofessional and inconvenienced by a variety of instances. More particularly, it referred to lawyers resorting to strikes and boycotts to the detriment of the litigants. The news item refers to the Sri Krishna Commission's Interim Report that has brought out the kind of violent incident that took place in the Madras High Court.

It also quoted regulations adopted abroad, particularly in the United Kingdom by passing of the Legal Services Act, 2007 with an express purpose to set up an independent Board to examine allegations of lawyers' misconduct. It also refers to the systems prevalent in other democracies i.e., in the United States of America. The item concludes that the time had come to reform the Bar Councils in India and to revisit the laws regulating the professional conduct of advocates.

4.3 Several unpleasant incidents in the past, some of them occasional in nature, and most of them organized, have led to a severe criticism by the society and the members of the legal profession by reason of their behaviour and misconduct are now being looked upon with distrust. The advocates' conduct in courts, behaviour with litigants and their unprofessional conduct, including the act of going on frequent strikes as a measure of protest for irrelevant issues has reached to terrifying proportions. This has resulted in the loss of opportunity to litigants to get their grievances redressed, coupled with the introduction of greater violence, both in courts and outside, in various forms.

This has even forced working advocates to absent themselves from work, a fact that has come in the notice of the courts through its judicial pronouncements. In spite of repeated pronouncements of the Supreme Court and the High Courts declaring strikes and boycotts to be illegal, the same has continued unabated, coupled with violence and instances of misconduct. This issue has been addressed in certain instances with severe punishments, including debarment of lawyers from even practicing in courts.

Advocates Act, 1961 - Regulation of Legal Profession Back

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