The ghost of the kith and kin issue is back to haunt the judiciary. The Bar Council of India in a recent meeting had resolved to act against all those advocates who are practicing in courts in which their relatives are judges.
The State Bar Councils have been asked to furnish a list of the names of those advocates who are practicing in the courts in which their judges are relatives. What action can be taken against these advocates is the million dollar question.
The rule book makes it clear that a court would mean the High Court, lower courts and tribunals also. Now it seems quite impossible that the Bar Council would be able to clear out so many advocates from the courts who have their kith and kin as judges.
The question now being asked is whether it would be better to bring into force the judges transfer policy which seemingly looks as though has become defunct considering the fact our Karnataka High Court has only one judge from outside the state- the Chief Justice himself.
I do agree that transferring the judges out of the lower courts would be quite an ordeal. It would be ideal to keep a tab on those advocates who practice in front of their relative judges. The judges do have the option and ethics demand that the judge recuses himself of the matter in case a relative is before him. Although the Bar Council of India does not spell out in clear terms the action that could be initiated if advocates are practicing before their relatives, a close reading of the rule would indicate that such matters could be brought before the respective state bar councils which could at least reprimand the advocates.
The kith and kin issue is becoming a headache with lawyers with hardly any knowledge of the law walking away with orders thanks to their relatives sitting on the Bench. When it is not possible to act according to the rule book then it is best that a fear is created.
In my view the Bar Council should make this an issue instead of rolling their fingers on the rule book and stating that nothing can be done. Discussions, seminars, paper publication of those judges who have their kith and kin practicing in the courts should be done with more vigour.
Act or the day is not too far when advocates begin winning case-not on case but on face law.