“…..the canons of ethics and propriety for the legal profession totally taboo conduct by way of soliciting, advertising, scrambling and other obnoxious practices…”- Justice Krishna Iyer
Allahabad High Court has issued a notice to all the online portals carrying out the advertisement and soliciting work for lawyers. It observed that such portals are prima facie functioning against the Code of Ethics of Bar Council of India.
This came after a petition was filed by lawyer Yash Bhardwaj against online portals like ‘justdial’, ‘myadvo’, ‘lawrato’ etc. The Bar Council of India informed the Allahabad High Court that it has constituted a five-member committee to look into the issue.
The submission made on the behalf of the petitioner was that Rule 36 and 37 of the Code of Ethics formulated by the Bar Council of India prohibits advertising, touting and solicitation of work due to which the administration of justice has been polluted. He also pointed out that private respondents are unauthorized agencies of law, which have neither been recognized nor affiliated with Bar Council of India or any State Bar Council or the Central or State Government, to tinker with the legal profession in a manner which suits their financial interest. He also emphasized in his petition that since no rules have been prescribed to regulate the blatant advertisement by the practicing lawyers, therefore, individual lawyers are taking recourse to advertise themselves which in turn reduces the integrity of the entire community of lawyers in the eyes of the public.
The petitioner also submitted that lawyers enlisted with such website or portals are not their employees because had they been their employees, then they would not have been entitled to practice which is prohibited as per the Rule 49 of the Code of Ethics formulated under Section 49 91) (c) of the Act. Furthermore, even sharing the remuneration or any other similar arrangement is violative of Rule 2 formulated by respondent No.2 under Section 49 (1) (ah) of the Act.
The Division Bench of Justice Dr. Devendra Kumar Arora and Justice Rajan Roy, on 1st October, appointed Senior Advocate S K Kalia as amicus curiae to assist the Court, observing that larger issue of the nobility of the profession was involved. On 10th October, S K Kalia informed the Court that portals which are mentioned in the writ petition are soliciting advocates to get themselves registered on the said portal with the enticement that it would enhance their fee and professional earnings.
On the basis of the petition, the court observed,
“We are of the view that the issue raised in this petition requires attention of the Court especially considering the documents annexed with the writ petition wherein the lawyers are seen soliciting cases by advertising themselves through these portals which, we are prima-facie of the view is in the teeth of Rules 36 and 37 of the Bar Council of India Rules made under Advocates Act, 1961”