On Thursday, 21st March 2019, Bar Council of India grabbed many eyeballs when it suspended as many as 5970 advocates from practicing law. The main reason was the lawyers have failed to pay their pending subscription fee of the Advocate Welfare Fund or AWF.
The amazing point here is all the 25 lawyers who were suspended for non payment of fees have got 25 years of experience of practice behind them. It must be noted that the advocate welfare committee BCI had issued many notices as well as warnings for the lawyers and had asked them to clear the dues to avoid suspension etc.
One important piece of information is Supreme Court or SC has made it clear that the lawyers who do not subscribe to the AWF would not be allowed to practice before any court in India. The point to be noted is every person who enrols as an advocate is mandated to subscribe to the Advocates Welfare Fund or BCI. This was as per the Rule 40 Chapter-2 Part 6 of the Bar Council of India Rules.
It was pointed out that renewal must be done every three years. It was from the year 1993 that the subscription was changed into lifeline and was collected mandatorily during enrolment. Some advocates who have enrolled before the year 1993 continue to pay their subscription fees on yearly basis.
The shocking information collected is the number of defaulting advocates are more than 7000 and in the month of November in 2018, the bar council had issued notices to all the defaulting lawyers. In addition to this the names of the defaulting lawyers have been published on the official website of the state bar council.
As many as 5970 advocates did not make pending payments inside the stipulated time period inspite of many warnings and notices. Hence these advocates were given suspension orders. It was brought out that a resolution has been passed on 21st March by the Advocates Welfare Fund for unanimously suspending the defaulting advocates. Mr. C. Raja Kumar, secretary to the Bar Council of TN and Puducherry informed the suspension officially through a communication dated 23rd March.