A Quick Look At How Law Came To Be Practised In India

Posted on August 31, 2016 in Education

By Palak Joshi:

The Legal Profession has always been an important limb in the administration of justice. Without, profession of law, the courts would not be in a position to administer and provide justice efficiently as the evidence in support or against the parties to a suit cannot be legitimately marshalled, facts cannot be properly articulated, and the appropriate legal arguments in favour or against the case of the parties cannot be put forth before the court. “A well-organized system of judicial administration proposes a properly equipped and proficient Bar.”[1]

The modern legal profession in India has frontier roots, emerging with the advent of Mayor’s Courts in Madras and Calcutta in 1726. However, it was not until 1846, through the Legal Practitioner’s Act, that the doors of the profession were thrown open to all those duly qualified, certified and of good character, irrespective of nationality or religion. Women were still excluded from the profession at this stage, to be thereafter admitted through the Legal Practitioner’s (Women) Act, III of 1923.

The legal profession in India, which includes both the practice of law as well as professional legal education, is regulated by the Advocates Act, 1961. The Bar Council of India (BCI) is envisaged under the Advocates Act as a body for regulating the minimum standards to be maintained by institutions imparting legal education in India. The reformation of legal education in India undertaken since the late 1980s at the initiative of the BCI, the University Grants Commission (UGC), the Law Commission of India and various state governments has led to the establishment of various national law schools in India in the last two decades.

India has the second largest population of lawyers in the world, second only to the United States. Many persons admitted that practice law in India has gradually increased from about 70,000 at the time of Independence in 1947 to some 1.25 million in 2014.[2]

India has a recorded legitimate history beginning from the Vedic ages, and some common law framework might have been set up amid the Bronze Age and the Indus Valley civilisation. Notwithstanding this, the advancement of “law” as a calling is just a late wonder. The Indian legitimate calling is one of the biggest on the planet and assumes a fundamental part of the planet’s biggest vote based system.

While the bases of this calling lie before Independence, from that point forward the calling has developed enormously and as of now faces different difficulties; the most imperative being to give access over the calling, guarantee moral establishments and modernise the practice no matter how you look at it.

History Of Legal Profession In India

The history of the legal profession in India can be traced from the establishment of the First British Court in Bombay in the year of 1672 by respective Governor Aungier [3]. The admissions of attorneys were placed in the hands of Governor-in-Council and not with the Court. Before the establishment of Mayor’s Courts in 1726 in Madras and Calcutta, there were no legal experts in India.

Mayor’s Courts- There was no established legal profession until the establishment of the Mayor’s Court. Those who practised law were devoid of legal training and some of the functionaries under the Mayor’s courts were dismissed servants of the British East India Company. There were some years which played important roles in setting up the courts in India.

The Advocates Act, 1961

After the establishment of the Advocates Act, 1961 all the old classes of experts and legal practitioners (vakils, barristers, pleaders of various grades, and mukhtars) were abolished and put into a single category known as “Advocates” who enjoyed the privilege to practice in courts across India. The Advocates Act also additionally establish an All India Bar Council for the first time in the history of India, with the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General of India as the Ex- Officio members of the Bar Council. [4]

The All India Bar Council has one member selected by each State Bar Council, and it selects its own Chairman and Vice Chairman. The Act has created a State Bar Council in each ad every State with the Advocate General of the State as an Ex- Officio member, and 15 to 25 Advocates elected for five years. The State Council’s important functions include enrolling law graduates on its Roll, conducting cases of misconduct against Advocates on the Roll and, to organise legal aid, among other functions. Application for enrolment is therefore submitted to the State Bar Council.

[1] Palak Pathak, History of Legal Profession in India, Law Octopus.

[2] CBSE,  Legal Profession in India, 163(2014).

[3] M.P Jain, Outlines of Indian Legal History 38, (1990).

[4] Robert J. Bonner, Lawyers and Litigants in Ancient Athens: The Genesis of the Legal Profession, 1927,  202.

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