Right Of Legal Representation – Hon’ble Delhi High Court

Manishi Pathak

Founding Partner, Anhad Law

The issue of representation of a client through Advocates1 before certain Courts in India such as labour Court, family court, consumer court, tribunals etc., has been a contentious issue for a long time since many statutes in India prohibit representation by lawyers before such courts/tribunal (s), etc. It is relevant to mention that there is an express prohibition against appearance of an advocate under the Family Courts Act, 1984, Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 or under the Cooperative Societies Act, 2003 etc.

Chapter-IV of the Advocates Act, 1961 (“Advocates Act”) deals with the “Right to practice” of law by an advocate in India. Section 292 of Advocates Act states that only advocates are entitled to practice the profession of law and Section 33 of the said Act provides that no person shall, be entitled to appear as an advocate before any court or before any authority unless he is enrolled as an advocate. The word “Advocate” is defined in section 2A to mean an advocate who is enrolled with any State Bar Council in India. Further, as held by Courts in India, the expression ‘to practice the profession of law’ is wide enough to cover the persons practicing in litigious matters as well as persons practicing in non-litigious matters.

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has held that the right to practice is not only a statutory right but also a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India. Thus, right of an advocate to practice before any court or tribunal, contained in Section 303 of the Advocates Act necessarily means a litigant before any court, tribunal or authority having right to engage and avail the services of an advocate.

1. Registered under the Advocates Act, 1961. Section 24 of the Advocates Act, 1961 provides the grounds of eligibility for a person to be registered as an ‘Advocate’.
2. Section 29- Advocates to be the only recognized class of persons entitled to practice law – Subject to the provisions of this Act and any rules made thereunder, there shall, as from the appointed day, be only one class of persons entitled to practise the profession of law, namely, advocates.
3. Section 30 has been part of the Advocates Act as passed by the Parliament in 1961. However, the said Section was not notified then on account of the conscious will of the Parliament to leave the aspect of its enforcement to the Executive and the Executive thereafter in its wisdom brought it into force only on June 15, 2011.

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