NEW DELHI: The Bar Council of India (BCI), which is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar, has no record of how much it has spent on advocates’ welfare and on organising legal aid for the poor.
These two duties are among the statutory functions under Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961, which the Bar Council of India is required to carry out.
While replying to a RTI query filed by The Sunday Guardian, the BCI said that it has no record of how much amount, if any, it has spent on advocates’ welfare and for giving legal aid to the poor in the last four years.
More interestingly, the BCI, while replying to another query related to the amount spent by the chairman, vice chairman, co-chairman on TA, DA in the last four years along with the details of the travel, the purpose of the travel, stated that it cannot provide this information to a third party as it would cause “unwarranted invasion” not only in the privacy of the college/institute, but also on the functioning of the Council, while further adding that the sought information has no relationship to any public activity or public interest.
However, it seems, while responding to the RTI query, the BCI has missed reading Section 7 of the Advocates Act, 1961, that governs BCI. This section says that inspecting and visiting universities and colleges who are teaching law and awarding degree, is one of its main functions.
The BCI is supposed to check that a law school can impart a satisfactory legal education with a physical inspection of the campus and hence its officials are required to make periodic travels across the country.
In July 2016, the then associate managing trustee of BCI, Rajinder Singh Rana, former BCI vice chairman Raju Dhanpal Raj and ex-BCI-member Milan Kumar Dey were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and a fine for taking a Rs 6 lakh bribe to approve licence for Global Law College in Ghaziabad.