The Uttarkhand High Court has reiterated that every accused has a fundamental right to legal representation. Bar association cannot prevent advocates from representing accused persons.
The Uttarakhand high court’s order came on a PIL challenging the legality of a resolution passed by the Kotdwar Bar Association few months ago asking its members not to defend a man accused of murdering an advocate.
The Bench of Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Verma added, “we face a situation today where the miniscule few, who dare to tread the solitary path of taking up the cause of the damned, are threatened with dire consequences, for nothing more than the discharge of their duties as an Advocate. Unlike Sir Thomas Erskine, the threat which lawyers, such as the petitioner, face is not from outside but from within i.e. from the Association of Advocates of which they are members. Several Bar Associations (in the present case, the Kotdwar Bar Association) have been passing resolutions that no member of their association should defend a particular person or persons in a particular case, or a person accused of a brutal or a heinous crime, though such resolutions are wholly illegal, against all traditions of the Bar, and against professional ethics.”