The High Court of Madhya Pradesh had the occasion to echo that the right of a lawyer to practice can be made subject to conditions imposed by the Bar Council of India even after enrollment. The significant provision is Section 49 of the Advocates' Act, 1961 which confers on the Bar Council of India general power to make rules for discharging its functions.
Clause (ah) of the Section authorizes the BCI to lay down the conditions under which a Counsel shall have the right to practice and the conditions under which a person shall be considered to practice as an advocate in a Court.
The double-judge Bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Yadav and Justice Rajeev Kumar Dubey stated, "In other words, the Bar Council of India is conferred with the power to frame Rules laying down conditions post-enrollment subject to which an advocate shall have right to practice. In other words, an advocate getting enrolled under Section 24 can be subjected to further conditions before he is permitted to practice as an advocate in court."
The Court was dealing with a trial made to Rule 9 of the All India Bar Examination Rules, 2010, framed by the Bar Council. This provision made it obligatory for all counsels who have graduated from the year 2009-10 on to pass the AIBE for practising the law.
The plaintiffs came to Court complaining about the BCI's non-declaration of the 2019 AIBE results of the Jabalpur and Bhopal exam halls. They questioned the validity of the Rule, stating that it is beyond the powers of the Bar Council to introduce such a Rule to deprive the registered advocates of practising.
The High Court disagreed with the plaintiffs' view. Referring to the case of V Sudeer vs Bar Council of India the Supreme Court stated, "It is, therefore, obvious that once a person has been enrolled as an advocate under the Act, his right to practice can be made subject to certain conditions if the Bar Council of India seeks to impose such conditions on an enrolled advocate. In other words, rule-making power under Section 49(1) (ah) deals with a situation which is post-enrollment of an advocate."
Hence the Court dismissed the challenge to Rule 9 of the AIBE rules. The Court noted that the BCI cancelled the exam at the Jabalpur and Bhopal halls due to mass copying. Hence, it was pointed out that the Court cannot agree to the plaintiffs' request to declare the exam result. The petition was discharged with an explanation that the plaintiffs may go to the BCI and the State Bar Council to take a stand on the matter if a representation for the same is made.