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High Court notice to BCD on plea challenging notification requiring Delhi's Aadhar, Voter ID for enrollment for lawyers
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) on a plea challenging its notification requiring law graduates to provide Delhi's Adhar card and Voter Card as address proof for enrollment with it.
The said notification was issued on April 13 by the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD). "...all those law Graduates, who wish to apply for Enrollment with the Bar Council of Delhi shall be required to attach copy of Aadhaar Card and Voter ID Card of Delhi/NCR (National Capital Region) along with their respective Application and other documents and the Aadhaar Card and Voter ID Card must bear the address of Delhi or NCR. Henceforth no enrollment shall be done without the copy of Aadhaar Card and Voter ID Card bearing the address of Delhi / NCR," the notification by BCD read.
Justice Prathiba M Singh issued notice to BCD and directed to file a reply. The matter has been listed on May 2 for further hearing.
The court has also impleaded the Bar Council of India (BCI) and directed it to file a report on what is the situation in other States for enrollment with State Bar councils on the next date hearing.
The petition has been moved on behalf of Rajani Kumari, a law graduate from the University of Delhi and a resident of Gaya, Bihar.
Advocate Lalit Kumar submitted before the bench that the notification is arbitrary.
The petition moved by advocates Lalit Kumar and Shashank Upadhyay stated that the BCD has deliberately excluded the law graduates, who are domiciled outside Delhi-NCR and come from far away parts of the country to practice law in Delhi in hopes of better prospectives and a wider horizon of serving the country, from eligibility for enrolment with The Bar Council of Delhi.
It is also stated that Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law to all persons.
The requirement of an Aadhaar Card and Voter ID Card with the address of Delhi or NCR discriminates against those law graduates who do not have an address in Delhi or NCR, it stated.
This creates an arbitrary classification between law graduates based on their residential address, which is a violation of Article 14, it further stated.
It is further submitted that Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right to assemble peaceably and the right to form associations or unions.
"The requirement of an Aadhaar Card and Voter ID Card with the address of Delhi or NCR imposes an unreasonable restriction on the exercise of these rights. It hinders the ability of law graduates from other states to join the legal profession in Delhi or NCR, and it limits their ability to form associations with other legal professionals in these areas," the petitioner contended.
It is also submitted that changing the address on the voter ID card would essentially mean that a law graduate belonging to a place of domicile other than Delhi-NCR will have to give up their voting rights in their original place of domicile solely on the basis of their employment in a different constituency.
It was further submitted that the state cannot compel a citizen to give up their voting rights in their original place of domicile solely on the basis of their employment in a different constituency.
"In a democratic system, voting is a fundamental right of every citizen, and this right cannot be taken away or restricted without due process of law, the petition said.
It is also said that the Constitution of India guarantees every citizen the right to vote,
irrespective of their place of residence or employment.
"Article 326 of the Constitution of India specifically states that "the elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State shall be on the basis of adult suffrage," the petition read.
"Adult suffrage means that every citizen who is above the age of 18 years has the right to vote. Therefore, if a citizen is working in a different constituency, they can still exercise their right to
vote in their original place of domicile by registering as a voter and casting their vote on the day of the election. Therefore, the impugned notification dated April 13, 2023, issued by the BCD is violative of the petitioner's right to vote, regardless of their place of residence or employment," it read further. (ANI)