Del HC | Does Rule 35 of SCBA Rules apply to suspension/termination of status of a member of SCBA as an office-bearer of its Association? HC explains in view of Ashoka Arora, Secy. SCBA’s removal

Delhi High Court: Mukta Gupta, J., refused to stay the suspension of Ashok Arora from the post of Secretary, Supreme Court Bar Association stating that no prima facie case was made out by the Secretary.

Decree of Declaration

Plaintiff by way of the present application sought an interim injunction staying the Executive Committee of Supreme Court Bar Association — defendant 1’s resolution whereby the plaintiff was suspended from functioning as Secretary of defendant 1.

Termination

Plaintiff contended that in terms of Rules 35 of the Supreme Court Bar Association Rules, only the General Body of the defendant 1 Association is competent to suspend or terminate the membership of defendant 1 Association and thus the decision of the Executive Committee’s decision of suspending the plaintiff is illegal and non-est.

Further, he also challenged the Coram of the Executive Committee which passed the impugned resolution on the ground that most of the members of the said meeting were interested parties and the neutral members were less than 5, hence their decision cannot be binding.

Plaintiff relied on the decision of Khwaja Nazir Ahmed v. King Emperor, AIR 1936 PC 253 and S.P. Chengalvarya Naidu v. Jagannath, (1994) 1 SCC 1.

Bar Council of India

Counsel for the Bar Council of India (BCI) stated that, BCI generally avoids interfering in the functioning of the affairs of any Bar Association but given the extreme circumstances in the present case,  BCI took notice of the complaints/events received by it and since the issue has a far-reaching effect in relation to the working of the Bar Associations of the Country, took the conscious decision and passed the resolution dated 10-05-2020.

Supreme Court Bar Association

SCBA contended that Bar Associations of various District Courts, High Courts or Supreme Court are independent bodies and their actions are not subject to the jurisdiction of BCI.

Analysis & Decision

Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules relates to the suspension or expulsion of a member of the SCBA as a member of the said Association.

Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules has no application to the suspension/termination of the status/position of a member of SCBA as an office-bearer of its Association.

Vide the impugned order plaintiff has not been either suspended or expelled as a member of the SCBA.

The plaintiff continues to be the member of SCBA and by the impugned resolution has been directed to not act in his capacity as the Secretary of the SCBA.

Bench found no merit in the present matter since the basis of the plaintiff’s case was on the violation of Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules, but the present matter is not covered by Rule 35.

As noted above Rule-35 of the SCBA Rules having no application to the facts of the case, defendant 1 Association has proceeded under Rule-14.

If the allegations of the plaintiff are that the acts of some of the members of the Executive Committee of SCBA are mala fide then the said allegations are required to be raised specifically and parties against whom mala fides are alleged are required to be impleaded as defendants in the suit. The seven members of the Executive Committee have not been impleaded as parties.

No prima facie case was made out by the plaintiff and hence the application was dismissed. [Ashok Arora v. SCBA, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 1289, decided on 06-10-2020]

Advocates for the plaintiff: Arun Batta, Neha Kumari and Abdul Vahid.

Senior Advocate Arvind Nigam with Advocate Ankit Banati for SCBA.

Advocates, Rajdipa Behura and Preet Pal for BCI.

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