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Bar Council of Delhi Vs. Bar Council of India - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Appeal No. 71 of 1973
Judge
Reported inAIR1975Delhi200; ILR1975Delhi321
ActsAdvocate Act, 1961 - Sections 15
AppellantBar Council of Delhi
RespondentBar Council of India
Advocates: R.L. Aggarwal,; G.N. Aggarwal and; H.H. Hingorani, Advs
Cases ReferredRidge v. Baldwin.
Excerpt:
.....the ecology of this statute like all others is that part of common law which has been received in india as rules of 'justice, equity and good conscience' as suited to the genius of this country. ' (elements of english law, page 9). it is well known rule of construction of statutes that 'the legislature does not intend to make any substantial alteration in the existing law beyond the immediate scope and the object of the statute' (maxwell on interpretation of statutes, 12th edition, page 116). we have, thereforee, to look to the existing common law which surrounds the statutory provision giving the state bar council the power to elect a chairman. ' as the delhi bar council and the bar council of india differed in their views on this question in good faith, we make no order as to costs in..........the ecology of this statute like all others is that part of common law which has been received in india as rules of 'justice, equity and good conscience' as suited to the genius of this country. this much of common law is in force in india in view of article 372(1) of the constitution as held by the nine judges' bench of the supreme court in superintendent & legal remembrancer, state of west bengal v. corporation of calcutta, : 1967crilj950 . as pointed out at page 187 of the report in this respect the decision did not differ from the previous decisions of the court in the director of rationing and distribution v. the corporation of calcutta and others, : 1960crilj1684 , and v. s. rice and oil mills v. state of andhra pradesh, : [1964]7scr456 .(8) the relationship between statute law.....
Judgment:

V.S. Deshpande, J.

(1) Can a State Bar Council acting under section 15 of the Advocates Act, 1961 (briefly 'the Act') make a rule to provide for the removal of its Chairman by passing a resolution of no confidence against him in a meeting of the Bar Council summoned for that purpose The question has arisen for decision as follows :-

(2) After the Delhi Bar Council was elected in January, 1969, the members of the Council elected Shri Radhe Mohan Lal as the Chairman of the Delhi Bar Council. Later differences arose between him and some of the members of the Bar Council. A meeting of the Bar Council was called on September 22, 1972 in which a resolution of no confidence was passed against the Chairman by a majority. But the Chairman disputed the legality of the resolution and sought the directions of the Bar Council of India who heard the Chairman and the Delhi Bar Council on October 21, 1972. The majority of the Bar Council of India expressed the view that (a) there was no provision either in the Act or under the Rules framed there under for removal of the Chairman by a no confidence motion passed against him in a metting of the liar Council, and (b) no rule for such removal of the Chairman can be made under the Act by the State Bar Council under section 15.

(3) The present writ petition was originally filed both against the Bar Council of India and Shri Radhe Mohan Lal but in the meanwhile the Delhi Bar Council elected in 1969 expired. By a fresh election a new Bar Council has come into being and a different person was elected as the Chairman, Shri Radhe Mohan Lal having gone out of office when the previous Delhi Bar Council ceased to exist on the expiry of its tern. The petitioner, thereforee, does not now press for the decision of the question whether the resolution of no confidence could be passed by it against Shri Radhe Mohan Lal validly inasmuch as such a question has become academic on the retirement of Shri Radhe Mohan Lal. The petitioner has, however, made a draft amend ment of Rule 33 to ensure that a Chairman of the Delhi Bar Council may be removed by the passing of such a vote of no confidence against him in a meeting of the Bar Council summoned for that purpose. The petitioner is aggrieved by the decision of the Bar Council of India that no such. rule can be made under the Act at all. The only rglief now sought by the petitioner is for a declaration against the Bar council of India that such a rule can be made under the Act so that once such a rule is made by the Delhi Bar Council, the Bar Council of India may give their assent to it.

(4) The petition is opposed by the Bar Council of India in accordance with their majority decision which had expressed a view that the Delhi Bar Council has no power to make such a rule under section 15 of the Act.

(5) The following provisions of the Act are relevant for consideration in the decision of the question whether such a rule can be made under section 15. According to the Preamble, one of the objects of the Act is the constitution of Bar Councils. Chapter Ii of the Act deals with the Constitution of the Bar Councils and with provisions relating to them. Section 3(3) states that 'there shall be a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman of each State Bar Council elected by the Council in such manner as may be prescribed'. Section 5 makes every Bar Council a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with power to acquire and hold property and to sue and be liable to be sued. Section 6 describes the functions of State Bar Councils. According to section 8, the term of office of the members of the State Bar Council is four years. Section Ioa lays down the disqualifications by the incurring of which an elected member of a Bar Council shall be deemed to have vacated his office or would be otherwise disqualified under any rule made by the Bar Council of India. The relevant part of section 15 is as follows :- '15. Power to make rules.-(1) A Bar Council may make rules to carry out the purposes of this Chapter. (2) In particular, and without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing power, such rules may provide for- (c) the manner of election of the Chairman and the ViceChairman of the Bar Council.'

(6) All that we know from the statute is that there is to be a Chairman of each State Bar Council elected by the Council in such manner as may be prescribed and that rules can be made to carry out this statutory purpose. No doubt, two learned bodies of lawyers, namely, the Delhi Bar Counsil and the Bar Council of India, have differed on the question whether rule can be made to provide for the removal of the Chairman of the Bar Council by a resolution of no confidence passed against him in a meeting of the Bar Council summoned for that purpose. One reason why the two learned bodies have not been able to solve this problem is that they relied only on the language of the statute. On the one hand, the Delhi Bar Council contends that the power given to the State Bar Council to elect its Chairman carries with it the capacity of the said Bar Council to remove the Chairman. On the other hand, the Bar Council of India has expressed the view that in the absence of a definitive provision in the Advocates Act, 1961 enabling the making-of such a rule, the power of the State Bar Council to make such a rule cannot be implied. In short, the Bar Council of India sticks to the literal construction of the Act and would not permit the rule to be made simply because a specific provision for the making of such a rule is not to be found in the Act.

(7) In our view, to quote Justice Frankfurter, 'the 'policy' of a statute should be drawn out of its terms, as nourished by their proper environment, and not, like nitrogen, out of the air.' (D. A. Schulte, Incorporated v. Gangi, (1946) 328 U.S. 108. The ecology of this statute like all others is that part of common law which has been received in India as rules of 'justice, equity and good conscience' as suited to the genius of this country. This much of common law is in force in India in view of Article 372(1) of the Constitution as held by the nine Judges' Bench of the Supreme Court in Superintendent & Legal Remembrancer, State of West Bengal v. Corporation of Calcutta, : 1967CriLJ950 . As pointed out at page 187 of the report in this respect the decision did not differ from the previous decisions of the Court in the Director of Rationing and Distribution v. The Corporation of Calcutta and others, : 1960CriLJ1684 , and V. S. Rice and Oil Mills v. State of Andhra Pradesh, : [1964]7SCR456 .

(8) The relationship between statute law and common law has been expressed by professor W. M. Geldart as follows:-

'THEmost fundamental part of our law is still Common Law. . ............ The statutes assume the existence of the Common Law; they are the addenda and errata of the book of the Common Law ; they would have no meaning except by reference to the Common Law.'

(Elements of English Law, page 9).

IT is well known rule of construction of statutes that 'the legislature does not intend to make any substantial alteration in the existing law beyond the immediate scope and the object of the statute' (Maxwell on Interpretation of Statutes, 12th edition, page 116). We have, thereforee, to look to the existing common law which surrounds the statutory provision giving the State Bar Council the power to elect a Chairman.

(9) The State Bar Council is a statutory corporation and its Chairmanship is a statutory office. The Chairman for the time being is thus the holder of an office. He is not an employee of anyone. This position recalls the observation of Lord Reid in Ridge v. Baldwin, (1964) A.C. 40, that the cases of dismissal relate to three kinds of persons, namely, (1) a servant appointed by the master, (2) holder of an office at pleasure, and (3) holder of an office otherwise than at pleasure. An office is often distinct from employment. As observed by Lord Normand in Dale v. Inland Revenue Commissioners, (1954) A.C. Ii 26,' 'office' is an apt word to describe a trustee's position, or any position in which services are due by the holder and in which the holder has no employer.' Another earmark of office is indicated in the following description by Rowlatt J. in Great Western Rly. Co. v. Bater, (1920) 3 K.B. 266, as follows :-

'ANoffice or employment which was a subsisting, permanent, substantive position which had an existence independent of the person who filled it, which went on and was filled in succession by successive holders, there can be no doubt that the director of a company holds such an office as is described.'

Further, office may be one of profit or it may be honorary. The payment of remuneration is not a necessary condition of an office (Dr. Deorao v. Keshav Laxnwn Borkar, : AIR1958Bom314 , per Chainani and Shelat JJ.).

(10) What is the common law relating to the removal from office of the holder thereof who is not a servant of anyone In answering this question, a distinction between two different meanings of the word 'officer' may be borne in mind. A person may come to occupy an office either by appointment or by election. In either case, he may be an employee of a corporation or he may be only the holder of an office of the corporation and not its employee. The essence of the employment is the disciplinary power of the employer over the employee. This is expressed in the principle embodied in section 16 of the General Clauses Act that the power to appoint includes the power to suspend or dismiss. The power of suspension is mainly connected with the power to inquire into the conduct of the employee signifying the disciplinary power of the employer over the employee. This disciplinary aspect is not attached to the holder of an office which is not an employment. When the employer is not a single person but is a body of persons, the decision to employ is taken by such a body in a meeting by majority. Such a resolution may be analogous to an election. In this sense, an employee may be appointed by an election. In such circumstances, the process of appointment and election may be analogous (Hayman vs. Governors of Rugby School, (1874) 18 L.R. Equ Cas 28. But the occupation of an office by the holder thereof even by appointment and much more so by election is an entirely different process. The distinction between the two is not found to have been made by a Division Bench of this Court in Mohan Chandra v. The Institute of Chartered Accountants, : AIR1972Delhi91 , when it was observed obiter that the principle of section 16 was relevant to the consideration of the removal of the elected President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Nor can it be said that every appointment results in an employment. An appointed arbitrator is not, for instance, an employee of anyone. In East India Film Studios v. P. K. Mukherjee, : AIR1954Cal41 , section 16 of the General Clauses Act was held inapplicable to the removal of an arbitrator firstly because he was not an employee and secondly because specific provisions for his removal inconsistent with section 16 of the General Clauses Act have been made in the Arbitration Act.

(11) Quite irrespective of the question whether the office of the chairman of a State Bar Council is held at pleasure or for the same period for which the Bar Council is elected, the common law relating to the removal of the holder of an office is that the body which has the authority to elect its Chairman has the inherent and implied power to remove the Chairman. If the Chairman holds his office at pleasure, then he can be removed at will. But it he holds his office otherwise than at pleasure, he can be removed only for cause after notice and hearing. It would suffice to quote the following from 19 Corpus Jurisdiction Secundum, pages 71-72 :-

'THEpower of amotion is inherent in every private corporation as an incident of its being and may be expressly conferred by statute or charter in recognition, it has been said of at least one statute, of the inherent nature of the power. While ministerial officers and agents who are elected or appointed by the board of directors are removable at will, without a cause being assigned and without notice or a hearing, directors, trustees, and officers elected by the corporation at large may, by virtue of this inherent power, and irrespective of the existence of a provision for removal in the articles or bye-laws, be removed for cause, but not otherwise, and only after notice and a hearing or an opportunity of being heard.'

TOthe same effect is the statement of law in 19 American Jurisprudence 2d, pages 545 and 547 and in Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 3rd edition. Volume I, page 190. The English common law relating to the removal or 'amotion' of the holder of an office is stated as follows in Jewwitt's Dictionary of English Law at page 115:-

'INmunicipal boroughs, a removal from his office of a councillor by his fellow-councillors, frequently exercised before the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, and not expressly abolished either by that Act or by the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882. The power of amotion is implied or -may be conferred by charter.'

SIMILARstatements of law occur in Wharton's Law Lexicon, 14th E edition, pages 59-60 and In 9 Halsbury's Lalws of England, 3rd Edition, paragraph 67, with regard to an office held at pleasure.

(12) The View expressed by the majority of the Bar Council of India that a rule cannot be made under section 15 of the Advocates Act for the removal of the Chairman of the State Bar Council leads to the result that once elected such Chairman is irremoveable. He would go out of office only when the State Bar Council does at the expiry of its statutory tennure. Such a result can be justified only if the common law stated above has been changed by the statute. The View of the Bar Council of India is, on the other hand, based on the very silence of the statute on this point. We are of the opinion that such silence indicates that the common law regarding the removal of the holder of an office remains unchanged. The statute does not, thereforee, have to say that the Chairman of the State Bar Council Would be removable by a resolution of no confidence. The reason is that such power of removal is inherent in the Bar Council which elects its Chairman. 'The power given to the State Bar Council to elect its Chairman is the codification of only a part of the common law. Such codification does not change the other part of the common law which implies in the State Bar Council the power to remove the Chairman so elected. Just as rules can be made under section 15 to carry out the expressed power of the Bar Council to elect the Chairman, it would appear that rules may also be made to carry out the implied power of the State Bar Council to remove the Chairman. The two powers are inseparable in common law. They can be separated only by a statutory intervention. So long as this is not one, they would remain connected with each other even though only one of the powers, namely, the power of election has been made statutory while the other power, namely, the power of removal has been left to be implied. If such a power is not implied, the mere codification of the power to elect would result in a change in the common law. There is no warrant for implying such a change. On the contrary, the construction of the statute in the light of the common law implies such a power in the State Bar Council.'

(13) Shri Hingorani for the Bar Council of India relied on the decision in Lakshmi Narain Misra v. Municipal Board, 1962 All L J 113, to support his contention that the Chairman of the State Bar Council who is once elected cannot be removed from office by the resolution of the State Bar Council. The term of office of the Vice-President of the Municipal Board in that case was one year. It was held that the said term could not be cut down and the Municipal Board could not cancel the resolution electing the - appellant as the Vice-President. No such tenure has been fixed for the Chairman of the State Bar Council under the Advocates Act. On the contrary, r the common law rule that the holder of an office can be removed for a cause even if he has a fixed tenure of office was followed by the Supreme Court in Dr. Bool Chand v. The Chancellor, Kurukshetra University, : (1968)IILLJ135SC . The Vice-Chancellor had been appointed for a period of three years. Nevertheless, his appointment was held to be terminable before the expiry of three years for cause and after lie was given a hearing following Ridge v. Baldwin.

(14) It is, thereforee, declared 'that the petitioner Delhi Bar Council is entitled under section 15 of the Advocates Act, 1961 to make a rule to provide for the summoning of a meeting of the said Council for the express purpose of moving a motion of no confidence against the Chairman and for the passage of such a resolution resulting in the removal of the Chairman from office. This is our construction of section 15(1) and 15(2)(e) read with section 3(3) of the Act. This procedure would also give notice and hearing to the Chairman before the proposed resolution is voted upon. While we hold that the proposed rule will be within the scope of the rule-making power of the State Bar Council, the consent of the Bar Council of India to the rule would of course be necessary in accordance with law.' As the Delhi Bar Council and the Bar Council of India differed in their views on this question in good faith, we make no order as to costs in this writ petition. The writ petition is allowed in the above terms.


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