The Advocates Act (Salient Features)

Updated: Mar 16



Introduction & Salient features:

The Advocates Act, passed by the Parliament received the assent of the President on 19th May 1961. Before this Act, there were different classes of legal practitioners called pleaders, vakils, Lawyers, Attorneys," revenue agents, practicing under Legal Practitioners Act" and other Acts.


The objective of the. Advocates Act is to integrate and constitute one class of legal practitioners called "Advocates" (a common roll of advocates in India)- and to prescribe uniform qualification for admission to the Bar. The Act has created an autonomous All India Bar Council and also various State Councils with powers vested inter alia, to take disciplinary action in suitable cases. On enrolment an advocate is entitled to practice in any court of India including the Supreme Court.


Salient Features: "Advocate":

Sn.2 (a) of the Advocates Act 1961 defines an "Advocate". According to it, an Advocate means " an advocate entered in any roll under the provisions of this Act." Before the passing of this Act, there were different classes of legal practitioners recoginsed under the Legal Practitioners Act. They were called as Advocates, lawyers, vakils , pleaders, "revenue agent" etc. the Advocates Act has abolished these classes and has recognised only one class of Advocates (Sn.29) On merits they are grouped as "Senior Advocates" and "other advocates". The status of a Senior Advocate is conferred by the High Court or the Supreme Court with the consent of such advocate. The senior advocate is barred from taking minor legal work like drafting of pleadings, notices,affidavits etc. An advocate duly enrolled in the "Common roll" is entitled to practice in the Supreme Court and in any court, tribunal and in any other body where an advocate is allowed to pratice (Sns.29 & 33). Any person, who is not on the rolls and who practices law, is liable for punishment which may extend to 6 months imprisonment (Sn.45).


"Common roll"

Sn.2(f) of the Advocates Act, defines a "Common roll" .This means the common roll ofadvocates, prepared and maintained by the Bar Council of India under Sn.20 The common roll consists of the names of Advocates duly entered in all the State rolls, and also includes the names of the Supreme Court Advocates.


The common roll consists of two classes:

(i) Senior advocates, (ii) other advocates. Any dispute as to seniority is decided by the State Bar Council in respect of state roll, and by the -Bar Council of India in respect of common roll. The decision of the Bar Council is final.


State roll:

i) The Advocate Act defines State roll in Sn.2(n) It means a roll of advocates prepared and

maintained by the State Bar Council under Sn.17.

ii) Every State Bar Council should prepare and maintain a roll of advocates.


This consists of the names and addresses of:

"i) All persons who were advocates according to Indian Bar Council Act.

ii) All persons who are admitted as advocates under the Advocates Act.

iii) A person cannot be enrolled in more than one State Bar Council.

iv) Each state sends the roll of advocates to the Bar Council of India, and also additions or omissions, from time to time. The Bar Council of India, prepares a common roll of advocates from these State rolls.


Bar Council of India:

i) The Advocates Act 1961 has provided for the formation of the Bar Council of India as an autonomous body, charged with certain duties and functions. Sn.2(e) defines the Bar Council of India as the "Bar Council constituted under Sn.4 for the territories to which this Act extends".

ii) Composition: Sn.4 It consists of

a) The attorney-General of India (ex-officio)

b) Solicitor General of India (ex-officio)

c) One elected member from each State Bar Council elected from amongst its members). The Chairman & Vice Chairman are elected by the Council. Tenure: Sn.4

a) For ex-officio members, the tenure is 2 years.

b) For others, they continue as long as they hold an office as members of the State Bar Council.

iv) Status: Sn.5 The Bar Council of India is a body corporate and hence, a legal person. It is

an autonomous body. It is a legal 'person, having the right to acquire movable and immovable properties and to sue and be sued. It has a common seal and is having perpetual succession. It may become a member of the International Bar Association, or International Legal Aid Association and send delegates to the international conferences or seminars conducted by such bodies.

v) Functions: (Sn 7 with 1973 amendment). The functions of the Bar Council of India are

as follows:


a) Legal Profession:

i) To safeguard the rights interests and privileges of the Advocates.

ii) To lay down standards of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates.

iii) To promote Law reforms.


b) Supervision:

i) To supervise and control the State Bar Councils.

ii) To lay down the .procedures to be followed by the disciplinary committees of State Bar

Councils.


c) Legal Education:

i) To promote legal education in India and also to lay down educational standards. It should

consult the universities and State bar councils.

ii) To Recognise law degrees given by universities for enrolment as advocates, to visit and

inspect universities for that purpose.


d) Functional:

i) To conduct seminars, to arrange for lecture by legal experts and to publish legal journals.

ii) To organise legal aid to the poor.

iii) To reorgnise foreign degree for admission to the Bar.


e) Fund Collection: It may constitute one or more funds.

i) to give financial assistance to organize welfare schemes to the needy advocates.

ii) to give legal aid to them.

iii) to receive grants, donations etc.

f) Miscellaneous functions:

i) to resolve disputes regarding seniority in the common roll of advocates.

ii) to lay down rules to be followed by the disciplinary committees.

iii) to manage and invest the funds of the Bar Council of India, iv) to provide for election of its members.

v) to perform all other function necessary under the Advocates Act.

vi) It may give directions to the State Bar Councils. Rule making powers: The Bar Council of India has the authority to prescribe rules in various areas where it is to function under the Act. e.g. i) to prescribe standards for legal education, ii) to recognise foreign degrees,

iii) to prescribe the fee that may be levied, iv) Enrolment of advocates, etc




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