Right to Legal Practice of an Advocate in India

Section 29 of the Advocate’s Act, 1961 provides that subject to the provisions of this Act and any rules made thereunder, there shall, as from the appointed day, be only one class of persons entitled to practise the profession of law, namely, advocates.

In Nibaran Bora v. Union of India, AIR 1992 Gauhati 54, it has been held that only advocates can practise law. The meaning of the word “practise” is “repeated action; habitual performance; a succession of acts of a similar kind.” A person who is non-advocate, although habitually representing the parties in the Court, would amount to practising the profession of law and it will be violation of the provisions of the Act. In other words, it is absolutely clear that anyone who is not an advocate cannot, as of right, claim to plead for another. Nevertheless, it is open to a person, who is a party to a proceeding to get himself represented by a non- advocate in a particular case, as is provided under Section 32 of this Act.

In this context, Section 30 of the Advocate’s Act is relevant for mention. .This section provides that “subject to the provisions of this Act, every advocate whose name is entered in the State roll, shall be entitled as of right to practise throughout the territories to which this Act extends :

(i) in all Courts including the Supreme Court;

(ii) before any Tribunal or person legally authorized to take evidence, and 

(iii) before any other authority or person before whom such advocate is by or under any law for the time being in force entitled to practise. 

Section 30 which has not been enforced so far, does not confer an absolute right to practise but is subject to other provisions of the Act. The extent of the right to practise, is still regulated by different statutes including Section 14 (1) (a), (b) and (c) of the Bar Councils Act, 1926.

Section 30 does not lay down an absolute Rule of Law. It does not confer on a litigant a right to be represented by an advocate. It presupposes that the litigant is not entitled to be represented by an advocate. If otherwise a person is not free to appoint an agent, Section 30 of the Advocates Act will not authorise him.

In the context of “right to practise” Section 33 is most relevant and important. This section provides that “except as otherwise provided in this Act or in any other law for the time being in force, no person shall, on or after the appointed day, be entitled to practise in any Court or before any authority or person unless he is enrolled as an advocate under this Act.”

In Hari Om Rajendra Kumar v. Chief Rationing Officer. A.P., AIR 1990 A.P. 340, it has been held that Parliament in its wisdom has introduced Section 33 in the Advocates Act, 1961, permitting advocates alone to practise. One of the exceptions to the aforesaid provision is contained in Section 32, which gives power to the Court to permit appearances in particular cases by persons who are not advocates. 

In Pravin Soneji v. J. M Buxi and Co., (1984) Gauhati, 119, it has been held that persons not enrolled as advocate cannot claim right to practise professional law. The term “legal practitioner”, cannot be construed for the purpose of Industrial Disputes Act, as understood under the Advocates Act.

However, the Court has power to grant permission for non-lawyers to plead and argue cases in certain circumstances, where the power of attorney has been permitted to the agent to file, plead and argue all cases of the principal, and the deed is confined to a particular case only.

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