On 30th June 2021, Kerala High Court’s Single Bench of Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar heard the petition regarding the notification released by BCI on 25th June2021. The notification proposed the addition of new rules which stated that any decision of Bar Council of India or State Bar Council or Judges would not be criticized in public by any member of Bar Council. Moreover, BCI has also declared that the violation of this code of conduct could lead to suspension or dismissal of Advocates and other members of the Bar from their Bar Council membership.
The petition has been filed by Advocate Rajesh Vijayan seeking a prayer to declare the new rules that have been inserted under Sections V and V-A of Chapter II of BCI rules, as unconstitutional and illegal. The plea alleges that the said rules are violative of an advocate’s Fundamental Rights enshrined under Article 14, 19(1) (a) and 21 of the Constitution.
Advocate Santosh Mathew, representing the petitioner submitted that being an advocate himself, the new BCI rules infringes his right to provide constructive criticism. Furthermore, Counsel submitted that firstly, these new Rules would have to be approved by the Chief Justice of India in order to be enforced, and BCI has failed to notify about the assent from the CJI.
Advocate Rajit Counsel for BCI has submitted that the rules are not in force as CJI’s assent is still pending.
The Kerala High Court has admitted the petition and the submissions have also been recorded. Further, the petitioner has the liberty to move again if the rules are enforced.