Apex court quashes age limit for practising law

The Supreme Court on Tuesday shot down the upper age bar of 45 year put by the Bar Council for a law graduate to get licence for practice in courts.

In a boost to those who wish to practice law after retirement, a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri quashed a batch of appeals by different state bar councils, which had framed rules to fix 45 as the upper age limit for enrolment as advocates. “How can this be done? Lot of people enroll as lawyers after retirement or after their resignation. In fact, I know about one person in Karnataka who was under suspension and he started practicing law. He turned out to be one of the best lawyers in the state. These things do happen,” the bench said.

The Bar Council of India contended that the upper age limit could bring in uniformity in professional practice across the states, besides maintaining the professional standards and protecting interests of lawyers.

 The court noted that Parliament had fixed no upper age limit for pursuing law course, while  the rule fixed by the state bar councils appeared to have created a distinction between two similarly placed persons without any authority.

 “We don’t find any rationale to have age restriction for enrolment as lawyers if a person is otherwise eligible,” the bench said, dismissing the batch of appeals. The court set aside the rule framed by bar councils of Gujarat, Punjab and Haryana and Tamil Nadu. The state bar councils maintained that putting the restriction would help in maintaining the standards of education as candidates used to get a law degree while continuing in other services, without formal or basic education.

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