The legal profession is an important constituent of the justice delivery system in the country. The court of law cannot provide justice without the law professionals who assist the court of law, put forth the proper pieces of evidence and arguments whether for or against in the court of law. Parties without the law professionals can not articulate the facts properly as well as appropriate legal arguments before the court of law. It can be said that the justice delivery system runs through the lawyers in the country. This is the reason advocacy is considered a noble profession and advocates are the privileged persons of the society. Advocates should work with integrity and morality. Any misconduct on the part of an advocate is considered a blunder and ultimately harmful for the advocate as well as for society both.
A brief introduction of procedure to file a complaint against a lawyer
Where to file a complaint?
There is a bar association in every state which regulates the conduct of the advocates. Any complaint against an advocate can be filed in the state bar council. Almost every state bar council has a complaint form on their website and instructions are also given on the website.
Prima facie inquiry
Prima facie inquiry is done by the advocates employed by the state bar council. It is done to avoid any conflict of interest. If the state bar council finds any misconduct on the part of the advocate, then the case proceeds further otherwise matter is closed by the bar council.
In case of finding the violation of ethical rules, the bar council notify the advocate for the same and direct him to respond to the said allegations. Then the advocate submits the document and evidence to justify his actions. After receiving the response from the advocate, the bar council reviews the complaint once again. If the bar council is satisfied with the response of advocates, then the case is closed by the bar council otherwise further proceeds.
In case the bar council is not satisfied with the response of the advocate, it can launch a formal investigation against the advocate. During the process of investigation, the client may be contacted or may be asked to testify before the disciplinary board at the formal hearing. This process can take six to eighteen months.
Penalties faced by advocate
In case the bar council finds out that the advocate has violated the ethical rules. He may face the followings:
- Probation- the practice of advocate is restricted for a certain period. He may also be subjected to monitoring if the violation is minor.
- Private Reprimand- state bar council gives written reprimand and it reflects in the lawyer’s permanent file.
- Public Reprimand- this is also the written reprimand but it publishes in the local newspaper or bar’s magazine.
- Suspension- bar council may suspend the advocate from practicing the law for serious violations. The period of suspension varies from state to state.
- Disbarment- bar council may disbar the advocate from practicing law for more egregious violations. His license is taken away and this prevents him from further practicing the law.
Procedure to file a complaint in state bar council
The aggrieved person may file the complaint in the state bar council in the following manner:
- The complaint must be in plaint form. It must consist of the name, address, contact, enrollment number of the advocate, along with other necessary details. A colored photograph of the complainant must be placed on the front page of all copies. All copies of plaint must be duly signed and verified.
- The petitioner also requires to provide his details. These details are name, address, contact along with other required information.
- The plaint can be drafted in Hindi, English, or any regional language according to the state. It should be written as per the direction issued by the bar council. If the plaint is submitted in any regional language, the English translation of the plaint is to be submitted to the bar council of India.
- The plaint should be written on a non-judicial stamp paper of Rs. 10 with an affidavit. It should be attested by the oath commissioner or notary.
Bar Council of India
The procedure for a complaint of an advocate in the bar council of India is the same as in the state bar council.
Power of State Bar Council
Every state has its own rules and regulation to deal with such issues. The committee can dismiss a complaint when a complaint against the advocate is not legitimate.
Council requires that the complaint against the advocate must be disposed of within one year from the date of receiving the complaint from the petitioner. In case if it exceeds one year then it will be considered illegal and the respondent will not be bound by this.
Power of the bar council of India
The appeal can lie within 60 days after the state bar council. Though the bar council of India can not change the order of the disciplinary committee, it can give any order of punishment to the state bar council.
If the state bar council does not complete the proceedings on the time under section 35 then the bar council of India can do the same under section 36 of the act.
Advocates help in getting justice to the common people. If the misconduct or deceive the clients it reduces the faith of common people in the judicial system. It is necessary to inquire about any complaint against the advocates properly.
This article has been written by Prabhat Singh.