Bar Council’s powers to notify online poll under HC scanner

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A vital question of law revolving around the powers of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana in issuing a notification for online elections to the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association and all Bar associations of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh has been placed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court for adjudication.

The issue: whether or not the respondent-Bar Council is justified in issuing a notification for conducting elections online on September 30 and October 1 for the Bar Association of Punjab and Haryana High Court and all Bar associations of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh. This point has been raised by three former presidents of the District Bar Association of Chandigarh and two members. The petition is to be argued by senior advocate Anand Chhibbar.

Among other things, Shankar Gupta and other petitioners submitted that the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana has shut its eyes to the plight of needy lawyers, who are in need of money during the Covid pandemic. A few unfortunate ones were even finding it hard to make ends meet.

“The Bar Council does not want to help them financially. Instead it hurriedly wants to hold online elections and is ready to spend a whopping amount on it. It’s a sad state of affair that our brother lawyers who are facing acute financial crunch are left to fend for themselves despite the fact that the Bar Council is generating huge finances through welfare tickets affixed on every Power of Attorney filed in the courts…,” the petition stated.

The petition further stated that two Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court recused to be chief supervisors for the online elections. One Judge recused before the notification was issued and the other Judge did so after the notification was issued. “This raises a serious doubt over the election framework.”

The petition added that conducting elections was not a cakewalk, but an arduous task involving a host of people for monitoring, supervising, managing and organising the poll. “In such a grim situation, especially when the contagion is spiraling out of control and spreading its tentacles across the globe, conducting elections is an insensitive and preposterous act,” it stated.

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