Ministry of Law and Justice Current Affairs

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Lawyers’ plan nationwide agitations against Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2017

Bar Council of India (BCI) has called for a nationwide stir against what they allege as the undemocratic provisions of the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2017. BCI has planned to submit a memorandum to the Union Law Minister to reject the Law Commissions suggestions to amend the Act.

The Law Commission of India has proposed various amendments to the Advocates Act, 1961 so as to usher in forward-looking reforms in the legal profession. It has placed before the government, the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

BCI’s objections

BCI has condemned those proposals that deter lawyers from going on strike and also those that allow entry of foreign law firms and lawyers to practice in India. According to BCI, the Law Commission has hastily prepared the amendment bill without waiting for its final suggestions. It has stated that all the proposed amendments will take away the freedom of lawyers to practice fearlessly in the court proceedings.

The Law Commission as a part of its recommendations has proposed that the bar council(s) should comprise one non-lawyer member so that it can be made sure that effective actions are taken against lawyers indulging in professional misconduct. BCI has vehemently opposed this demand too. It says that this provision will destroy the autonomy of the state council and the Bar Council of India.

Law Commission’s Response

According to Law Commission, the recommendations was worked out after receiving the suggestions of the BCI, which clearly supported for imposing punitive action against those lawyers who go on strike causing inconvenience to the litigants and the justice delivery system.

Law Commission also feels that if medical councils, press councils and other institutions can have members from other fields then bar councils can also have non-lawyers as members so as to to usher in accountability in the system.

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Law Commission Report pitches for stronger Election Commission

Law Commission of India in its 255th report on electoral reform has pitched for stronger Election Commission of India (ECI).

The report was submitted to Ministry of Law and Justice by Law Commission Chairman Justice A P Shah.

Recommendations of 255th Report of Law Commission with respect to ECI

  • Appointments of Chief Election Commissioners (CEC) and all Election Commissioners (ECs)- It should be made by the President in consultation with a three-member collegium or selection committee.
  • The collegium or committee shall consist of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition of the Lok Sabha (or the leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha) and the Chief Justice of India (CJI).
  • Seniority based elevation- The elevation of an EC should be on the basis of seniority. If senior EC is not appointed due to unfit reasons, the three member collegium or a committee give reasons in writing.
  • Equal constitutional protection to all members of the ECI- Equal constitutional protection must be given to all members of the ECI in matters of removability from office.
  • In this regard, Article 324(5) of the Constitution should be amended.

Other Recommendations of 255th Report

  • Independent candidates often referred as dummy candidates to be debarred from contesting elections.
  • Paid news to be made an electoral offence that can lead to disqualification under Representation of People Act, 1951.
  • Several changes should be made in election funding legislation.
  • Candidates must disclose all contributions received by them from any person or company, and from the political party.
  • Companies planning to fund a political party must place their plans before shareholders for approval. In this regard The Companies Act, 2013 must be amended.

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Ordinance promulgated to appoint Nripendra Misra as Principal Secretary

The Centre promulgated an ordinance to clear the way for retired IAS officer and former chairman of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Nripendra Misra’s appointment as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The ordinance expedited by the government designed to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act, 1997, which prohibits a chief of the regulatory body from “future employment under the central and state governments”.

When Misra was TRAI Chairman, he wrote to the Communications Ministry saying Section 5(h) of the TRAI Act, which forbade the head of the telecom regulator from seeking further employment, was unreasonable and should be eliminated. He argued that no such prohibitions applied to chairpersons and members of other important regulators like Competition Commission of India and SEBI.

As per Section 5(h) of the original TRAI Act, the chairperson of the regulatory body, upon ceasing to hold such office, shall be ineligible for further employment under the central or state government, and cannot accept any commercial employment for a period of 2 years. It is for this reason the Centre took ordinance route to amend the TRAI Act which was drafted by the Ministry of Law and Justice and moved for clearance by the Cabinet. After Cabinet nod, the legislation was sent to the President.

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