Banks can not force Lawyers to pay Court Fees from their own pockets

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The Privilege Committee of the Bar Council of Punjab & Haryana has called for a meeting with the Chairpersons of HDFC, ICICI, and Axis Banks. The reason behind this is an allegation that these banks have been instructing their panel lawyers to pay the court fees for filing cases in the Debt Recovery Tribunal in Chandigarh.

According to the complaint made by the Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) Bar Association in Chandigarh, the court fees can amount to lakhs of rupees. It is claimed that the banks only reimburse the lawyers months later. The DRT Bar Association believes that this practice is unethical and unfair. They argue that the high court fees are unaffordable for ordinary lawyers, and it is not appropriate for the banks or their officers to ask panel lawyers to pay from their own pockets.

The DRT Bar Association argues that this practice goes against the rights, duties, and privileges of advocates as outlined in the Advocates Act, 1961, and the BCI Rules. The Privilege Committee, headed by Chairman Lekh Raj Sharma and Members Raja Gautama and Karanjit Singh, agrees with this view. They believe that if this practice is widespread, it violates the provisions of the Advocate Act 1961, particularly Section 30. They also believe it is detrimental to the interests of common advocates, especially young ones. They argue that this unethical practice would give wealthy advocates a monopoly over legal work, which would undermine the talent and opportunities for other advocates.

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The Privilege Committee comprising Chairman Lekh Raj Sharma and Members Raja Gautama and Karanjit Singh opined that “Prima facie it appears that this kind of the practice if it is prevalent is certainly in violation of the provision of the Advocate Act 1961, particularly Section 30, against Privileges Rights and Duties of the Advocate and also against the interest of the common Advocates particularly young Advocates.

In response to these concerns, the Committee has summoned the Chairpersons of HDFC, ICICI, and Axis Bank to appear before them at the Bar Council of Punjab & Haryana. The Committee warns that failure to cooperate with the order would be seen as an admission of the unethical practice, and further action will be taken accordingly, in accordance with the law.

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