Appellant sought status of his complaint filed with the Delhi Bar Council regarding negligence, cheating & unfair practice of an advocate - CIC: There is a delay of more than 1 year in giving reply; Respondent advised to be cautious in future
1. The complainant filed RTI application dated 26.05.2016 seeking status of his complaint filed with the Delhi Bar Council on 20.02.2016 vide no. 21/2016 regarding negligence, cheating and unfair practice of an advocate.
2. The CPIO response, first appeal and the FAA response are not on record. The complainant filed a complaint on 11.07.2016 before the Commission on the ground that information should be provided to him.
3. The respondent was represented through counsel Sh. Ashish Tiwari who was personally present in the hearing. The complainant was absent.
4. The respondent stated that vide their letter dated 04.08.2017, they had informed the complainant that complaint No.21/2016 dated 20.02.2016 against Mr. Bharat Bhushan, advocate is pending and will be taken up in due course of time.
5. During the hearing, the Commission asked the respondent about the delay in giving reply to the complainant on his RTI application dated 26.05.2016. The respondent stated that due to shortage of staff from 2015 in 2 Bar Council of Delhi, the reply could not be sent on time. The respondent stated that some of their employees were involved in on-going process of verification of advocates.
6. The Commission observed that there is a delay of more than 1 year in giving reply to the complainant on his RTI application dated 26.05.2016. The defense taken by the respondent is not sustainable.
7. The respondent is directed to show-cause in writing the reason for delay in replying to the complainant’s RTI application dated 26.05.2016 and why penalty should not be imposed on him, within 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.
8. The Deputy Registrar is directed to fix a hearing in the matter after 30 days for compliance. Copy of the order be given to the parties free of cost.
(Radha Krishna Mathur)
Chief Information Commissioner
ADJUNCT ORDER DATED 28.09.2017
1. The instant matter was earlier heard on 21.08.2017. The matter is listed today for compliance of order dated 21.08.2017
2. The complainant was personally present in the hearing. The respondent was represented by counsel Sh. Ashish Tiwari who was personally present in the hearing.
3. Both the parties have sent their written submissions dated 18.09.2017 and 22.09.2017, which are taken on record.
4. The complainant stated that he had made a complaint for action by the Bar Council of India and Bar Council of Delhi against negligence, cunningness, deceitfulness and unfair practice of an advocate vide his applications dated 18.02.2016 and 20.02.2016.
5. The complainant stated that he had urged the Bar Council of Delhi as well as Bar Council of India for an early action/hearing in his said complaints as he was losing the court case due to total negligence and deceitfulness of advocate. The complainant stated that both the Bar Councils gave no response and initiated no action in the matter.
6. The complainant stated that, thereafter, he had filed a RTI application dated 26.05.2016 and requested the Delhi Bar Council to inform the status of his complaint dated 20.02.2016. The complainant stated that after getting no response from the respondent, he approached this Commission through a complaint dated 11.07.2016 against the respondent.
7. The complainant stated that a reminder was also sent to the respondent. He stated that in September, 2016, he had received a copy of letter dated 01.09.2016 written by Bar Council of India to Bar Council of Delhi for needful action on various complaints including his complaint.
8. The complainant stated that he had also requested the Commission for early hearing in his matter. He further stated that on 03.08.2017, he had received the first notice of hearing. He further stated that soon after receiving the notice from the Commission, he had received reply dated 04.08.2017 from the respondent giving incomplete and misleading information.
9. The complainant alleged that the respondent is protecting their member advocates with malafide intention. He stated that till date correct and exact position of his complaint has not been informed to him.
10. The respondent contested the statement of the complainant made in para 9 above. The respondent stated that they are not protecting any advocate and that they are not a body with mandate to represent /protect any advocate.
11. The respondent stated that they have duly informed that the complainant that complaint No.21/2016 dated 20.02.2016 against Mr. Bharat Bhushan, advocate is pending and will be taken up in due course of time.
12. The respondent stated that the delay caused in giving reply to the complainant’s RTI application was neither deliberate nor intentional and was due to occurrence of some unprecedented circumstances. The respondent in his written submissions stated that the elected body of the State Bar Council of Delhi was dissolved in June, 2015 as their term came to an end. Thereupon, the duties and obligations which were collectively carried out by the elected body of 25 members along with the regular staff of the Bar Council of Delhi is now being managed solely by the regular staff only with no elected member in place. All the functions of Bar Council of Delhi are currently administered by the Special Committee since November, 2015.
13. The respondent stated that the Bar Council of India came up with Rules relating to the Certificate and Place of Practice (Verification) Rules in the year 2015 and post introduction of the said Rules, the election to all the Bar Councils across the country were virtually put on hold as the very objective of the said Rules was to first identify fake practicing lawyers and fake degree holders and to strike off their name from the rolls of the advocates of State Bar Councils including the State Bar Council of Delhi.
14. The respondent stated that in view of the above, the State Bar Council of Delhi is engaged in the mountainous task of verification of all the advocates enrolled on the rolls of Bar Council of Delhi. He stated that it requires consistent and prolonged interaction with not only the Universities/Colleges which are situated in State of NCT of Delhi but also various Universities/Colleges which are situated across the Country.
15. The respondent stated that on the one hand, the Council and its regular staff have to work in constant touch with all the Universities and Educational Institutions across the Country in order to verify the degrees and educational certificates of the concerned advocates and on the other hand they have to ensure smooth dispensation of routine affairs of the Bar Council such as fresh 5 enrolment of advocates, preparation of rolls of advocates, conducting meetings of various Committee(s), keeping track of various pending and upcoming litigations before Courts of Law and implementation of the directions issued therein.
16. The respondent referred to judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the sub-judice matter of Ajayinder Sangwan & Ors. Vs. Bar Council of Delhi & Ors. The Hon’ble Court in its order dated 23.08.2017 held as:
“5) Learned senior counsel for the Bar Council of India admitted that the work relating to verification is very slow as the States where Advocate Generals are functioning as the Chairman of the State Bar Councils and elections are due, they are unable to spare time for the affairs of the State Bar Councils due to heavy workload. Further, no verification of certificates/degrees have been undertaken for LLB Graduates seeking enrolment after July 2010 and the All India Bar Examination (AIBE) cannot be said to be proof of having a valid degree of any candidate. In order to expedite the process of verification of degrees, the Bar Council of India proposes to constitute a Central Verification Committee of the Bar Council of India headed by a former Judge of this Court for the purpose of transparent and fair verification.
6) To put it in a nutshell, the petitioners are requesting for immediate elections of the State Bar Council as the term has expired long back whereas the Bar Council of India is pressing for the need of verification of the candidates to eliminate fake lawyers in order to bring improvement in the Bar and to get deserving practicing advocates for the respective Bar Councils.
7) We have been informed by learned senior counsel for the Bar Council of India as well as the respective State Bar Councils that the process of verification is not completed yet”.
17. The respondent stated that it is due to manifold administrative obligations and time-engaging exercises and in view of the circumstances as provided above, the Bar Council of Delhi could not ensure timely sending of reply to the complainant’s RTI application. The delay caused by the staff of Bar Council of Delhi dealing such matters, is neither willful nor intentional and is regretted and it is also submitted that no such delay will be repeated in future.
18. As information is being sought, this may be treated as 2nd appeal.
19. The Commission is of the view that the respondent should provide to the appellant a detailed reply on his RTI application dated 26.05.2016 including the number of proceedings/hearings that have taken place in Bar Council of Delhi with respect to the complaint dated 20.02.2016 of the appellant. They may also consider expediting their decision in the matter.
20. The respondent is directed to comply with para no. 19 above, within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order.
21. The show-cause issued against the respondent is dropped.
22. The respondent is advised to be cautious in future and ensure that the RTI applications are dealt with due seriousness and information is provided within the stipulated period of time to the applicants. The appeal is disposed of.
Copy of the order be given to the parties free of cost.
(Radha Krishna Mathur)
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Thakur SS Chauhan v. Bar Council in Complaint No. CIC/SA/C/2016/000311, Dated of Decision: 21.08.2017