Two law firm lawyers – Vijay Sondhi, a senior partner at Luthra & Luthra, and Manoj Singh, the founding partner at Singh & Associates – were among the 25 lawyers who emerged as winners in the recent elections for the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD).
The number of law firm lawyers winning the election is small, but higher than previous elections. Sondhi said it was a problem of awareness and interest. “If every law firm lawyer is explained the importance of a well-functioning bar council, then one would see the change in trend of law firm lawyers contesting elections,” he said, adding that some law firm lawyers had even stayed away from the voting booths.
“[Law firm lawyers] practise a very niche kind of law and thus have no motivation for participating in administration,” said Singh. The polls took place on 16-17 March with 52,000 persons eligible to cast votes. Singh said his top goal was to bring a minimum salary for new lawyers starting their legal practice.
Sondhi was re-elected for a second time. “My goal this term is to manoeuvre the rusted system towards transparent and responsible governance, and to create a pool of specialized transnational lawyers,” he said.
The BCD has the power to admit (or reject) persons as advocates, determine cases of misconduct against advocates, support law reform and further the interest of advocates.
As per the Advocates Act, 1961, state bar councils are to hold elections every five years, with the Delhi chapter’s previous term ending in December 2014. The Supreme Court had ordered the BCD to hold its elections after 31 December 2017. Polls were similarly delayed at other state bar councils across the country.
Sondhi said the delay was a result of pending proceedings before the Supreme Court. “The Supreme Court had directed bar councils of various states, including Delhi, to conduct an extensive verification process of the practising lawyers, and the bar councils had to issue voter lists on two occasions. I would like to point out that there was no delay on the part of the sitting members of BCD.”