Enrolment fees

Supreme Court: In a writ petition filed against the Union Government, Bar Council of India and State Bar Councils for charging the exorbitant enrolment fees and declaring the amount taken as arbitrary, unreasonable, and illegal, the full bench comprising of Dr. DY Chandrachud, C.J., P.S. Narasimha and J.B Pardiwala, JJ. termed this as a “significant issue” and issued notices to the Union Government, Bar Council of India and State Bar Councils.

The case of the petitioner was that Section 24(1)(f) of the Advocates Act, 1961 specifies that for being admitted as an advocate, an applicant is required to pay enrolment fees of Rs. 600 to the State Bar Council and Rs.150 to the Bar Council of India. Moreover, if the applicant belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, then the enrolment amount paid to the Bar Council of India (‘BCI’) is Rs. 25 and to the respective State Bar Council is Rs. 100. However, contrary to this, the State Bar Councils are charging exorbitant fees which vary in different States.

Further, the petitioner submitted that the accumulated amount of enrolment fees includes various charges, and different State Bar Councils charge an extra amount towards circulation fees, in case an applicant wishes to get his enrolment done within 24 hours. In addition to the Advocates Act, 1961, even BCI does not allow the State Bar Councils to levy any additional charges towards circulation fees. Thus, this is contrary to the provisions of the Advocate Act, 1961.

Moreover, it was submitted that the Bar Council of India charges Rs 2000 for transfer of name from one State roll to another State roll, however, there is no provision that provides for the levy of any kind of fees. Thus, the said practice is arbitrary, unfair and illegal in nature.

The Petitioner also pointed out the varying enrolment fees charged in different states :

  • Odisha – Rs. 42,100
  • Gujarat- Rs. 25000
  • Uttarakhand – Rs. 23, 650
  • Jharkhand -Rs. 21,460
  • Kerala -Rs. 20,050

The Court termed the present matter as significant, and issued notices to the Union Government, Bar Council of India and State Bar Councils.

The matter will next be taken up on 12-05-2023.

[Gaurav Kumar v Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 391, decided on 10-04-2023]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Party -in -Person: Advocate Gaurav Kumar.

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