On Sunday, 20th June 2020, the Bar Council of Gujarat (BCG) decided to temporarily lift its largest bar on practicing lawyers by allowing them to undertake any job, business, or profession until the end of the year. The decision comes at a time when several lawyers are rendered jobless due to the ongoing pandemic, spelling big relief for them.
Section 35 of the Advocates Act
prohibits the holding of a license to practice by any practicing lawyer if he/she engages in any other profession, job, or business other than law. Citing the financial difficulties of more than 75,000 members across the state, the Bar Council's elected representatives unanimously decided in a Sunday meeting that as lawyers are deprived of their legal practice, any lawyer enrolled with BCG may take up any job, business or profession for financial gain by 31st December 2020. The bar has insisted that the lawyers should involve themselves in professions that maintain the dignity of an advocate, BCG said in a statement. “We have taken the decision looking to the fact that a large chunk of lawyers are not able to meet their financial needs as they don’t get work from their clients due to the lockdown and courts are not functioning. Therefore we have decided to give relief in Section 35 of the Act and give liberty to lawyers to adopt the dignified economic activities other than legal practice,”
said Anil Kella, a senior member of the BCG.
At an extraordinary meeting held under the aegis of its Chairman C K Patel and other leaders, the BCG has taken several decisions in support of its members. The liability for late payment in respect of renewal payments for its welfare fund was suspended. However, it has agreed to take action against all lawyers who threaten the BCG and elected officials using social media sites. The Bar Council also made it clear in their stance that many lawyers are facing financial problems and are unable to carry out their familial responsibilities due to the Covid-19 Pandemic scenario. Therefore, the restrictions of the Advocates Act will not be applicable to those who are in need of the remaining year. They have also collectively decided to send this resolution to the Bar Council of India for further approval. The council leaders have further resolved to act in a strict manner against those lawyers who abuse the council and its elected representatives and chairman on the social media platforms. It further clarified its stance on the issue by sending notices to lawyers who perform the act which shall be further looked upon as a blatant breach of professional ethics. After the nationwide lockdown, the council also provided aid of Rs.5,000 for needy lawyers and also facilitated 8,500 lawyers for a 4.2 crore aid. Meanwhile, the members have made representations to the high court to open district and taluka courts. The government institutions have all come together in fighting the Covid-19 and further try their best to allocate and facilitate funds and aid across the country. [Read Resolution]