Complaining against an Advocate

Last updated on Jun 21, 2022

Complaints against an advocate can be with regard to professional or other misconduct by the advocate.1 Actions that qualify as ‘misconduct’ cannot be defined with an exhaustive list. What should be kept in mind is the nobility of the job of an advocate, and the high standard that is expected of advocates by society.2 Instances that are not explicitly mentioned in the law have led to disciplinary actions in the past, such as when an advocate tried to assault a client with a knife.3

Forum to Complain

The State Bar Council is the appropriate forum to lodge a complaint against an advocate.4 Upon receiving a complaint, or on its own motion, the State Bar Council can refer a case of misconduct to one of its Disciplinary Committees.5

Further, the disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of India also has the power to withdraw any pending proceeding from the State Bar Council and attend to the matter.6

If a case has been pending before the State Bar Council for more than a year since the receipt of complaint, the case shall be transferred to the Bar Council of India.7 If a person is not satisfied with the decision of the State Bar Council, they have the right to appeal to the Bar Council of India within 60 days of the communication of the decision.8 If the person is still aggrieved by the decision of the Bar Council of India, they can approach the Supreme Court within 60 days of the communication of the decision.9

 Procedure to complain

State Bar Councils accept complaints against an advocate in the form of a petition, duly signed and verified. If you want to find the format, you can approach your State Bar Council which will have a prescribed standard format of complaint, along with the fees. Additionally, formats used can include languages such as English, Hindi or the language of the respective State. 10

After a person submits the complaint, the Disciplinary Committee of the State Bar Council will inquire into the matter.

Punishing an Advocate

When a complaint has been made against an advocate, the Disciplinary Committee of the State Bar Council will give an opportunity for the advocate to defend themself. Further, the Advocate General of the State will also be present during the inquiry. After the inquiry, the Committee will either:

  1. Reprimand the advocate;
  2. Suspend the advocate for the time being;
  3. Remove the advocate’s name from the State roll;
  4. Dismiss the complaint.1
  1. Section 35, Advocates Act, 1961[][]
  2. Noratanmal Chouraria v. MR Murali & Another, Civil Appeal 5476 of 1999[]
  3. Hikmat Ali Khan v. Ishwar Prasad Arya, 1997 (3) SC 131[]
  4. Section 35(1), Advocates Act, 1961[]
  5. Section 35(1);Section 35 (1A), Advocates Act, 1961[]
  6. Section 36(2), Advocates Act, 1961[]
  7. Section 36B (1), Advocates Act, 1961[]
  8. Section 37(1), Advocates Act, 1961[]
  9. Section 38, Advocates Act, 1961[]
  10. Rule 1, Chapter 1, Part VII, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]

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Harshal Kakade

August 7, 2022

Complaining against an Advocate

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