Government is working on a Bill that envisages an Ombudsman to look into the complaints against lawyers and a Legal Services Board that would regulate law practices in the country. Giving this information in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Shri Salman Khurshid, Minister of Law & Justice informed the House that a draft Bill titled “Legal Practitioners (Regulation and Maintenance of Standards in Profession, Protecting the interest of Clients and Promoting the Rule of Law) Act, 2010” was drafted and uploaded in the website of the Ministry of Law & Justice inviting comments and suggestions of the stakeholders. Comments are being received. Shri Khurshid said the draft Bill will be reviewed based on these comments.

As per the proposed Bill, the complaints against the legal professionals will be examined by the Ombudsman and the report of the proposed Ombudsman will be forwarded to the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of the State with a copy to the proposed Legal Services Board. The Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council shall consider the report of the Ombudsman and if such report is not accepted by the Bar Council, the reasons for rejection of the recommendations of the Ombudsman shall be explained in detail and the same shall be published in the manner prescribed by rules. This will not in any way minimize the role of Bar Councils, Shri Salman Khurshid said.

However, Clauses 30-33 of the proposed draft Bill empower the Board to issue directions to the Bar Councils in certain specified circumstances and enables the Board to approach the High Court for enforcement of the directions if the Bar Councils fail to comply.

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  1. vswaminathan says:

    The following words, rich in soulful wisdom, of late N A Palkhivala, an eminent legal luminary of our times, may be worth recalling:

    “In a vast democracy like India, many citizens are bound to be un-dimensional. But no Lawyer has any excuse for being un-dimensional. By his training and equipment and by his professional competence he is better qualified than the rest of the citizenry to take an active part in the making of laws and the formulation of public policies. He would be failing his country if he did not do this duty.
    The lawyer has to act as a catalyst. The responsibilities, which today, lie on the shoulders of the lawyers, are far greater than at any earlier time in world history.”
    The above quote from a published speech on the topic – ‘Sentinel of democracy’, delivered nearly four decades ago, is indisputably of greater relevance today than ever before; essentially so, regarding the importantly increasing role lawyers have to play in the making of case laws by courts.

    The same wishful thinking came to be aired by no less a person than a Finance Minister(if one remembers right, it was the former one), not long ago. As per a personal noting, the information gathered from a Press Report was that, in his address at the Silver Jubilee function of the Customs, Excise and Service Tax Tribunal, the FM said:
    “We are concerned about the quality of government representation and looking into it. With globalisation, complexities of transaction will increase and it is important to have good quality government representation. Many judges have told me that the quality of their judgments was as good as the lawyers appearing before them,”

    The reported proposal to appoint an ombudsman mooted by the men presently in governance may be, in a manner of speaking,considered as a right action aimed to ‘kick the ball’ that had been in the Government’s court.

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June 2021