Bangladesh Bar Council

Bangladesh Bar Council a corporate body constituted under the provisions of the Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and the Bar Council Order 1972 (President's Order 46 of 1972). It admits persons as Advocates on its roll, holds examinations for purposes of such admission, and removes advocates from such roll for professional misconduct or failure to pay fees and contributions payable by them.

Enrolment and discipline of the advocates and attornies practising before the Supreme Court established in 1774 in calcutta were entrusted to that court under clause 11 of the Letters Patents establishing the court. Sadar diwani adalat, the highest Company court in Calcutta, enrolled and disciplined the vakils practising before that court and also before the subordinate Company courts under the provisions of Regulation 7 of 1793. After the establishment of the High Court of Judicature at fort william in Calcutta in 1862 replacing the Supreme court, Sadar diwani and Sadar nizamat adalats, the High Court of Judicature was empowered to enrol and discipline advocates, attornies, vakils, pleaders, mukteers, etc. Advocates were barristers of England and Ireland or members of the faculty of advocates of Scotland. They were entitled to appear and plead, instructed by attornies before the original side of the Calcutta High Court, and were also allowed to practise before the appellate side of that court, as well as before any subordinate court, but vakils of the Calcutta High Court who were enrolled from amongst qualified natives were not entitled to act or plead before the original side of that court. So there was a demand for creating an all India bar in the country and to abolish the distinction between advocates and vakils. Following such a demand, Indian Bar Committee was formed in 1923 with Sir Edward Chamier as its chairman. The report was submitted by that committee in 1924 to give effect to the Indian Bar Council Act, 1926.

This law for the first time provided for constitution of a Bar Council as a body corporate in each high court. Each Bar Council was constituted with fifteen members. Of them one was the advocate general, four were nominated by the High Court, and ten were elected by the advocates of the High Court from amongst themselves. The Bar Council was authorised, with the previous sanction of the High Court, to make rules to regulate the admission of persons to be advocates of the High Court without limiting or in any way affecting the power of the High Court to refuse admission to any person at its discretion. It preserved the power of the High Court to prescribe qualifications to be possessed by persons applying to practise in the original side of that court and its power to grant or refuse any such application or to prescribe the conditions under which such persons were to be entitled to practise or plead under that Act. The former advocates and vakils were unified as advocates, but a distinction between barrister and non-barrister advocates, continued as before.

The High Court was empowered to refer any case of misconduct of an advocate to the tribunal of the Bar Council for enquiry and to reprimand, suspend or remove from practice any advocates of the High Court found guilty of misconduct. Thus power of enrolment and discipline was with the High Court, and the Bar Council was merely an advisory body. In course of time, Calcutta High Court liberalised its rules and permitted non-barrister advocates to practise in the original side of that court. This state of affairs continued till the coming into force of the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Act, 1965 which provided for constitution of Bar Councils, one for the whole country and one in each of the two provinces of pakistan, with 14 elected members and an ex-officio chairman in each council. This Act abolished the distinction between barrister and non-barrister advocates and other legal practitioners, and made provisions for enrolment of two classes of advocates, one for practising before the High Court and the other for practising before subordinate courts. After the emergence of Bangladesh, the Bar Council was reconstituted under the provisions of President's Order of 1972 repealing the Act of 1965.

The Bar Council constituted under the President's Order of 1972 consists of fifteen members, of whom attorney-general for Bangladesh is one. He is the ex-officio chairman. Out of the remaining fourteen members, seven are elected by the advocates from amongst themselves, and the remaining seven are elected by advocates and one from amongst the advocates who are members of a local Bar Association included in each of the seven groups. For that purpose, local Bar Associations have been divided into seven groups. The vice chairman is elected by the members of the Bar Council from amongst themselves. The term of the Bar Council is three years.

The Bar Council has a number of standing committees, namely, the executive committee to look into the administration of the Council, the enrolment committee to conduct examinations for enrolment of advocates, the finance committee to control and administer finances of the Council, the legal education committee to lay down the standard of legal education, and any other committees constituted by the Bar Council from amongst its members for other purposes.

The Bar Council has constituted more than one tribunals, each consisting of two members of the Bar Council, and another from amongst advocates for hearing complaints of misconduct against advocates, and to recommend action to be taken against them after they are found guilty of misconduct in the enquiry made by the tribunal. A person aggrieved by an order of the tribunal may prefer an appeal to the High Court Division.

A law graduate or a barrister who is a citizen of Bangladesh and who has completed twenty one years of age and, unless exempted, has completed six months, pupilage under an advocate of at least seven years practice, is eligible to sit for the examinations for enrolment of advocates to practise before the courts subordinate to the High Court Division on payment of the fees prescribed. He has also to undergo training conducted by the Legal Education and Training Institute after passing the written and viva voce examinations for such enrolment. Unless exempted after completion of two years practice as an advocate in any subordinate court and fulfillment of other conditions, a person is eligible to sit for the examinations for enrolment of advocates of the High Court Division. After passing written and oral examinations conducted by the Bar Council for such enrolment, and on payment of additional fees, an advocate is enrolled as an advocate of the High Court Division. The Bar Council accords recognition to Bar Associations, and voluntary associations of advocates, on prescribed conditions. After enrolment, an advocate is required to be a member of one of the Bar Associations.

The Bar Council publishes a monthly law journal named Bangladesh Legal Decisions in order to disseminate legal knowledge. This mainly relates to important decisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh laying down the law on different questions for the benefit of lawyers and legal scholars.

The Bar Council Rules, 1972 make detailed provisions for election of members of the Bar Council, meetings of the Bar Council and its committees, disciplinary proceedings, powers and functions of the chairman, vice-chairman, chairman of the executive committee and the secretary appointed by the Bar Council, enrolment of advocates, functions of the committees, finance etc. The Benevolent Fund Rules make detailed provisions for collection of contributions and administration of the fund and payment of grants to retired or disabled advocates or members of the family/nominees of deceased advocates. The Relief Fund Rules make detailed provisions for collection of contributions and administration of the fund and grant of financial assistance to any distressed advocate or family of any deceased advocate. The rules for the Registration of Advocate's Clerk make provisions for qualification and registration of advocate's clerks, and suspension and cancellation of such registration by the respective Bar Association of which the advocate under whom the clerk works is a member. The rules relating to the hearing of complaints against advocate's clerks make provisions for following the procedure in hearing a complaint against an advocate's clerk. The rules relating to the hearing of appeals by the executive committee of the Bar Council make provisions for preferring appeal by an aggrieved person from the decision of the registering authority made in connection with a complaint against an advocate's clerk and procedure to be followed in deciding such appeal. The Bangladesh Bar Council has framed canons of professional conduct and etiquette to be followed by advocates with regard to other advocates, clients and the public in general, and their duty to the court. The Special Fund Rules make provisions for operating and administering special funds, namely the Legal Education Fund, CLEP Fund and Education Reserve Fund. [Kazi Ebadul Hoque]