The Karnataka High Court has relaxed the strictness of some statutes of the Bengaluru Lawyers Association, to ensure that the elections for the Association are held promptly and no later than December 22, as ordered by the Court. the rigor of the statutes must be relaxed for the same reason so that the elections can take place in…
The Karnataka High Court has relaxed the strictness of some regulations of the Bengaluru Lawyers Association, to ensure that the Association elections are held promptly and no later than December 22, as ordered by the Court.
Judge Krishna S. Dixit noted,
“the strictness of the regulations must be relaxed for the same reason so that the elections can take place within the time prescribed by this Court and confirmed by the divisional bench; an extraordinary situation justifies an extraordinary measure, as necessary; therefore, the relaxation sought by the HPC to the relevant provisions of the Articles of Association shall be and is granted.“
The bench was hearing a request by a court-appointed seven-member High Power Committee (HPC) to organize the election. This had moved the court by pointing out that By-Laws Nos. 33(d) through 33(f) of the Memorandum and By-Laws of the Association prescribe certain time limits for the preparation of voters’ lists, which, if adhered to, would make the holding of elections within the prescribed time almost impossible. .
Finding that the Committee was “more than justified” in moving the application in question, the Court thus ordered:
“accordance with the intended accomplishment of the election within the time fixed, the statutes in question would yield to purposive interpretation and, therefore, the prescription of time limits for action under them must be treated as a directory and as allowing variation at the discretion of the HPC in special circumstances.“
The Court noted that such a relaxation of the statutes was also granted with regard to the elected representatives of the Association. Ordinarily, elected officials cannot stay in office beyond their prescribed term, January 2021 in this case. However, regular elections could not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.
Thus, the management committee in place continued in the office by way of “ad hoc arrangement” given the “extraordinary situation”. He noted,
“This is not allowed in the Bye Laws which work in normal situations, it is true. The strictness of the regulations must be relaxed for the same reason so that the elections can take place within the time prescribed by this Court and confirmed by the divisional bench.“
Regarding the concerns raised about the voting rights of some members who happen to be members of other similar bar associations, the court said:
“The statutes of the Association provide for membership subject to compliance with certain conditions prescribed therein; double membership, that is to say that a lawyer is a member of more than one bar is not absolutely prohibited, although it is restricted and regulated.“
Further, he said:The right to vote, being a corollary of membership, can only be withdrawn for the reasons mentioned in Internal Regulation 35, subject to all just exceptions; in other words, such a valuable right cannot be denied on the sole ground that a lawyer has also obtained membership in another bar association; there is not much room for a contrary argument.“
However, the court found,
“The above being said, it is worth mentioning that this Court also shares the view that it is high time to restrict the right to vote only to practitioners of law in the courts of Bengaluru or barristers habitually residing within the boundaries Jurisdictional Jurisdictions of Bruhat, Bengaluru Maha Palike & Bengaluru Development Authority However, this is a political issue which can no longer be argued in court in a case of this type, especially due to the embargo in the Rule 10(8); this provision arguably prohibits inter-alia amendment of membership provisions and related matters after the deadline.”
The court had constituted the HPC while hearing a petition filed by the Association challenging an order dated 04.09.2021, by which the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban District was appointed and to be its administrator. Since the mandate of the Management Committee, having expired and the election not having taken place; pursuant to Section 27A of the Karnataka Companies Registration Act 1960.
Case title: The Advocates Association Bengaluru v. The State of Karnataka
Case no: WP 16350/2021
Click here to read/download the order