The Allahabad High Court recently directed the Uttar Pradesh government and the State Bar Council to ensure that a police report regarding an applicant seeking to practice as a lawyer is considered before the issuance of any license to practice the law [Pawan Kumar Dubey v. State Of U.P. And 3 Others].
The division bench of Justice Saumitra Dayal Singh and Justice Vinod Diwakar opined that such a procedure of due diligence would ensure that a person with criminal history is not able to obtain a license from the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh.
“Accordingly, we further direct respondent nos. 1 [State of UP] & 2 [State Bar Council] to forthwith issue necessary directions and to ensure appropriate police report be called from the concerned Police Stations with regard to all pending and fresh applications for issuance of license as is being done/followed for issuance of Passports,” ordered the Court.
It added that a provisional license could be issued before receiving the police report and in case an adverse report is received from the police later, the provisional licence may be canceled.
The Court passed the directions while hearing a petition concerning a complaint that alleged that a person with fourteen pending criminal cases, of which he was convicted in four, was able to obtain a license to practice law by concealing such criminal background.
Taking note of the fact that the complaint filed by the petitioner has remained pending since September 2022, the Court directed the State Bar Council to undertake and complete the disciplinary proceedings as expeditiously as possible, preferably, within three months.
The Court also found it alarming that a person with a criminal history of fourteen cases was able to obtain a license to practice law.
“Such license if allowed to arise and/or continue, may cause harm to the society in general and the legal fraternity in particular. The Advocates Act prohibits admission of such person to practice,” it said.
The Court further said that the State Bar Council ought to have developed a procedure to ensure that all fresh applications received for the grant of a license to practice law are subjected to police verification procedure in a time-bound manner.
It noted that all applicants who may be facing criminal charges or may have been convicted are bound to inform the Bar Council regarding the same at the stage of making their applications.
“If such material particulars are not disclosed by an applicant, his application may be rejected at the threshold. Seen in that light, it is surprising that the Bar Council has yet not evolved a procedure to enforce its own law,” the Court remarked.
Thus, the Court directed the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to ensure that a license to practice law is issued only after the consideration of the police report.
Advocate Suresh Chandra Dwivedi represented the petitioner.
Additional Chief Standing Counsel Arimardan Singh Rajput represented the State of Uttar Pradesh.
Ashok Kumar Tiwari represented the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh.