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History

(Reproduced from Commemorative volume of West Bengal Bar Council's Platinum Jubilee Celebration)

History of Bar Council:

Legal Profession by the common consents of generations the world over for several centu-ries is regarded as a honourable profession. This honour and prestige is due to code of its governing the relation of lawyers with rest of the society. Only due to our own Code of conduct our profession is treated to be the guardian and vindicator of justice delivery system and liberty of people.

The regulating act of 1773 of Great Britain appears to be the oldest and earliest precursor to the present Advocates Act, 1961. The said Act authorized the King by Charter or Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Great Britain to establish a Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal with "full power and authority to exercise and perform all civil, criminal, admiralty and ecclesiastical jurisdiction' and "to form and establish such rules of Practice and such rules for the processes of the said court and to do all such other things as would be found necessary for the administration of justice." Pursuant to this Act, a Charter was issued on the 26th March, 1774, establishing the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal. Clause 11 of the Charter provided as follows:

"11. And we do hereby further authorize and empower the said Supreme Court of Judica ture at Fort William in Bengal, to approve, admit and enrol such and so many advocates and attorneys-at-law, as to the said Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, shall seem meet, who shall be attorneys of record, and shall be, and are hereby authorized to appear and plead, and act for the suitors of the said Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, and the said advocates and attorneys on reasonable cause, to remove, and no other persons whatsoever, but such advocates or attorneys so admitted and enrolled. shall be allowed to appear and plead, or act in the said Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal, for or on behalf of such suitors, or any of them."

The persons entitled to practice before the court were:

(1) "Advocates" which expression then extended only to English and Irish barristers and members of the Faculty of Advocates in Scotland, and

(2) "Attorneys" which then meant only the British attorneys or solicitors".

The important thing to note is that in clause (11) there was an express provision that no other person whatsoever" would be allowed to appear and plead.

Similar Supreme Courts with like jurisdictions and powers were also established at Bombay and Madras. The Charters constituting those courts also directed each of them to approve, admit and enrol advocates and attorneys which expression then meant only British barristers and advocates a- British attorneys. Therefore, in the Supreme Courts at Bombay and Madras, as in the Supreme at fort William in Bengal, only British barristers, advocates and attorneys were eligible for enrolment. The indigenous Indian legal practitioners had no entry into these courts.