A complaint can be filed against an advocate in case of misconduct by the
advocate. Section 35(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961 provides that the State Bar
Council on having received any complaint or otherwise and having reason to
believe that any advocate on its roll has been guilty of professional or other
misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.
Section 6(d) also mandates that it is the function of the State Bar Councils to
entertain and determine cases of misconduct against advocates on its roll
While misconduct has not been defined anywhere in the statute, it is an
inclusive definition and the Bar Council of India through the Bar Council of
India Rules as well as the Rules on Professional Standards notified by the Bar
Council of India and mentioned in Chapter II, Part VI of the Bar Council of
India Rules, empowered under under Section 49(1)(c) of the Advocates Act, 1961.
Predominantly, a complaint may be filed under an advocate for fraud,
misrepresentation, as well as non-revelation of conflict of interests. Further
the Rules on an Advocate's Duty towards the Client has to be adhered to by the
advocate, failing which a complaint may be lodged against him / her.
These rules state:
- In the courts or tribunals, or before any other authority in or before
which he wishes to practise, an advocate is required to accept any brief
- An advocate shall not typically withdraw from serving a client after
agreeing to do so, unless there is good reason and the client is given
reasonable and ample notice.
- An advocate should give full and candid disclosure to his client about
his connection with the parties and any interest in or about the case that
is likely to influence his client's decision to employ him or continue the
engagement at the outset and during the engagement.
- It is an advocate's obligation to fearlessly defend his client's
interests by all fair and honourable means.
- An advocate representing the prosecution in a criminal trial should
conduct the proceedings in such a way that the innocent are not convicted.
- An advocate should not, in any way, directly or indirectly, divulge his
client's correspondence to him. He also agrees not to reveal the guidance
and legal advice that he provided during the hearings. He is, nevertheless,
required to reveal if it violates Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act of
As such, failing these, a complaint may be lodged against him.
The procedure to be followed by a disciplinary committee after receipt of the
- First there is receipt of a complaint against an advocate that is in a
similar format of a petition as per the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. If the
complaint is in any language other than English, and the complaint lies to
the disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of India, it has to be
translated to English by the State Bar Council.
- Before forwarding a complaint for misconduct of an advocate to one of
its Disciplinary Committees, the Bar Council may demand a complainant to
provide additional and better details, or may request comments from the
advocate complained about, within a time limit set by it. When the Bar
Council refers a complaint to a disciplinary committee, the Registrar should
promptly notify the advocate.
The notice will request that the concerned advocate show cause on the complaint
brought against him within a certain time frame, as well as submit a statement
of defence, documents, and affidavits in support of the defence.
- The date, time, and location of the inquiry will be determined by the
Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee. This date should not be more than
thirty days after receiving the reference. The Registrar must notify the
complainant or other person aggrieved, the counsel involved, and the
Attorney General or the Additional Solicitor General of India or the
Advocate General of the date, hour, and place of the hearing. The parties
may attend in person or through an advocate who must file a vakalatnama.
- If, notwithstanding delivery of notice, either the complainant or the
respondent fails to appear before the Disciplinary Committee in an enquiry
on a complaint received, the Committee may continue ex-parte or direct that new
notice be issued.
- Any such direction for proceeding ex-parte may be set aside if adequate
cause is established in an application supported by an affidavit filed within 60
days of the ex-parte order's issuance.
- Unless the committee determines differently, the matters can be heard
and decided on documents and affidavits. The Disciplinary Committee will
hear from the Attorney General, the Additional Solicitor General of India,
or the Advocate General, as appropriate.
- Thereafter the disciplinary committee shall pass its judgement.