While seeking a legal consultation, it is important to ensure that the person you are talking to is a capable professional with the necessary credentials. One way to achieve this is by checking their advocate code, which every practicing advocate must have.
What is an advocate code?
Every advocate must be registered with the Bar Council of India. The Advocates Act, 1961, empowers State Bar Councils to frame their own rules regarding the enrolment of advocates. It also requires all advocates to be registered with their State’s respective bar council, which assigns them an advocate code to identify them by. An advocate code is made up of 3 parts. The first part of the advocate code denotes the State they are practising in. The second part of the advocate code represents their enrollment number. The third part of the advocate code indicates which year they were enrolled in. An example of an advocate code would be “D/1984/2021”, which would be for an advocate in Delhi who was registered as an advocate in 2021.
Advocate codes are also applicable for Supreme Court advocates, but the format for these is slightly different. Instead of containing a State, an enrollment number and a year, Supreme Court advocate codes are simply one string of numbers.
Locating a specific advocate code
As every advocate requires an advocate code, comprehensive records of advocate codes are created and updated regularly. The Bar Council of India delegates the task of updating advocate codes to the State Bar Councils. Therefore, the website for each State Bar Council contains a list of every advocate registered in its jurisdiction, along with their advocate codes. Provided below is the process for locating a specific advocate code:
- Determine which Court the advocate would be registered with – If your advocate practices in District Courts and High Courts, their advocate code would be available on the State’s Bar Council website. For instance, if the advocate practices in the Kerala High Court, visit the Bar Council of Kerala
- Navigate to the directory of advocates – This option would usually be labelled as “Member Directory” or “Advocate Directory”.
- Search for your advocate’s name – The list given could be alphabetically arranged, presented through a search bar, or chronologically arranged. In any case, looking through the list for their name or using the search option will help you find them quickly.
- Read the given information – The information provided contains the advocate’s name, address and advocate code. Note this down for future reference.
- While searching for an advocate code, it is important to remember that “Bar Council Members” and “Advocate/Member Directory” are two distinct options. The former is merely a list of names, whereas the latter is helpful in determining their advocate codes.
The process for finding a Supreme Court advocate’s code is slightly different. The procedure is as follows:
- Visit the Supreme Court’s Advocate Directory at https://main.sci.gov.in/advocates. This allows you to search either alphabetically, or for a specific advocate code.
- Select the option that says “Alphabetically”.
- Select the letter that your advocate’s name starts with.
- This will show a list of every advocate whose name starts with that letter.
- Find your advocate on this list.
- The information provided here includes their name, mobile number, email ID, address and advocate code.
Why is the advocate code important?
Due to the size of the Indian judicial system and the wealth of information available online, it would be relatively easy for a person to masquerade as an advocate and deliver sub-optimal legal services. Therefore, the Bar Council of India devised a system of recording each and every advocate competent enough to provide their services to people, and advocate codes are an essential component in this system of records. It helps in ensuring uniformity of qualifications, makes it easy for judicial officers to determine who is a legitimate advocate, and lets citizens confirm that the person representing them has been deemed to be a qualified professional. These records are updated regularly to ensure that the information being provided is correct, and to minimize confusion regarding the legitimacy of advocates.
Procedure for enrollment in the Bar Council
To be assigned an advocate code, one must be enrolled in the Bar Council. There are a few eligibility criteria for enrollment, such as:
- The person has to be a citizen of India.
- The person should be 21 years or older.
- A degree in law must have been obtained from a university recognised by the Bar Council of India. If the person has been educated at a foreign university, their degree must be recognised under the rules set by the Bar Council.
Apart from this, other rules can be set by the Bar Councils for each State.
After this, the candidate must appear in an examination held by the Bar Council of India, known as the All India Bar Council Exam, to determine their competency. This exam is held in 40 cities across the countries, in 11 languages. It is held twice a year. An enrollment fee must be paid to the State Bar Council, as well as the Bar Council of India. Documents such as an application for enrollment, the relevant degree along with its marksheet, judicial stamp papers and other applicable fees must also be submitted.
Other information available on Bar Council websites
Apart from advocate codes, Bar Council websites also contain information relating to previous members of the relevant Bar Council, rules relating to filing complaints, online enrollment options, regulations that advocates must follow in the concerned State, applications for welfare funds, and other useful information. These websites are a verified source for information related to procedural matters of the law and the procedures related to the Bar Council, such as the transfer of advocates from one State Council to another. They can also be useful in obtaining contact information for lawyers. The Bar Council of India website contains the rules relating to professional standards that advocates must follow and a succinct history of the legal field in India.
It is essential to verify that the person representing you is an authentic advocate, and advocate codes are one of the tools through which this can be accomplished. Such measures help us retain our faith in our representatives during legal consultation processes.