If judges can go to the National Judicial Academy for training, why not lawyers, the Supreme Court said on Friday while asserting that all advocates should undergo compulsory training and they should not be allowed to practise unless they have a certificate from a recognised law university.
The remark was made by a bench of Justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal while hearing the bail plea of Souvik Bhattacharya, son of Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Manik Bhattacharya, arrested in connection with the West Bengal teachers’ recruitment “scam”.
Appearing in the court on behalf of Bhattacharya, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra submitted that a bail application was filed by one of the lawyers in the trial court despite the absence of a summoning order.
“Why don’t you have a law academy for lawyers? We have for judges. No action is being taken against erring lawyers by the Bar Council. They should be educated properly. Do something. There must be compulsory training for every lawyer, including the senior advocates.
“If judges can go to the National Judicial Academy, why not lawyers? Unless they have a certificate from a recognised law university, they should not be allowed to practise. It is there in foreign countries. It is not that nobody knows it, the problem is that nobody wants to implement it,” the bench observed orally.
The Supreme Court directed Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing in the matter on behalf of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), to verify if there was any summoning order passed by the court and posted the matter for hearing after a week.
The Supreme Court had, on December 21 last year, sought the ED’s response on a plea filed by jailed TMC MLA Manik Bhattacharya and his son seeking bail in the case lodged over alleged irregularities in teachers’ recruitment in West Bengal.
The ED arrested Manik Bhattacharya on October 11, 2022 after night-long questioning. Bhattacharya, a former chairman of the West Bengal Board of Primary Education, was arrested for allegedly not cooperating with the investigation.
He is an MLA of the ruling TMC from the Palashipara seat in Nadia district.
The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed Bhattacharya’s plea against his arrest by the ED in connection with the alleged irregularities in the recruitment of primary school teachers in West Bengal, observing that the federal agency’s action was not illegal.
The ED is tracking the money trail in the alleged scam, while the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is looking into the alleged irregularities committed in the recruitment.
It is alleged that several people who fared poorly in the recruitment examinations were hired as teachers in exchange for money while eligible candidates were overlooked