On Wednesday, the Supreme Court issued a notice in a transfer petition seeking the transfer of all the pending petitions to the apex court from the High courts of Bombay, Madras, Kerala. This Transfer petition is filed by the BCI. This petition was listed before a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India.
Senior Advocate Manan Kumar Misha, the chairman of the Bar Council of India appeared from BCI and submitted that the high enrolment fees are charged to cover the expense and welfare measure. The court observed that this can not happen. High fees can not be charged for welfare schemes. The advocate appearing on behalf of the BCI also sought an order of stay in proceedings ongoing in different high courts.
Currently, various proceedings are ongoing in state high courts. The petition regarding the high enrolment fee for the bar is raised in the petition before the Bombay High Court, Madras High Court and the Kerala High Court.
Before the Bombay High Court, a lawyer filed a petition challenging the decision of the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa to raise the enrolment charges from Jan 2020. This petition is listed before a division bench consisting of Justice KK Tated and Justice Prithviraj Chavan. The bench has issued the notice to the Bar Council of India and the state in this regard. The plea before the court challenges the order of BCMG as violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and Advocate’s Act.
While in Madras High Court, a fifth-year law student filed a petition challenging the High enrolment fee charged for admission in Bar. This petition is also listed before a division bench consisting of Justice T Raja and Justice Bharatha Chakravarty. This Bench has issued a notice to the BCI and the State government.
And In Kerala High Court, the bench consisting of Chief Justice SVN Bhatti and Justice Basant Balaji is hearing the appeal filed by the Bar Council of Kerala against the order of a single-judge bench. The single-judge bench has restricted the enrollment fee to Rs. 750/. Originally, the petitioner had challenged the high enrolment fees charged by Kerala Bar Council.
The Supreme Court refused to head to the arguments of counsel and issued notice to the BCI. The Apex court, on a previous occasion, has questioned various state bars about the disparity among the enrolment charged by the states and the centre.
The supreme court in an earlier case known as Bar Council of India v. Bonnie Foi Law College had remarked regarding the fees charged by the bar council of states. The court in that case noted that the argument that different State Bar Councils charge varying fees for enrollment also comes with one caveat. The Bar Council of India should pay attention to this since it has the authority to ensure that a uniform pattern is followed and that the price does not become prohibitive when young students are about to enter the bar.
After this, a petition was filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the high enrolment fees based on this decision. This petition was disposed of by the court by recording the submission made by the BCI that necessary steps will be taken according to the decision of the Supreme Court.