Code of Ethics and Conduct for Advocates under Advocates Act

The Advocates Act, of 1961 is a comprehensive law that governs the behavior and education of legal professionals in India. The Bar Council of India was intended to be established by the legislature, and state bar councils established a number of disciplinary committees to address attorney misconduct. Advocate enrollment and admission, as well as the right to practice advocacy, are governed by the Advocates Act of 1961.

Sections 35 to 44 of Chapter V are listed to check the advocate's actions. The law has granted the Bar Council of India sanctioning authority in order to maintain attorney discipline and punish professional and other misconduct.

Punishment of Advocates for Misconduct

Punishment of advocates for misconduct is provided for in Section 35 of the Act, and in order to fall under this provision, the act of misconduct need not be one that constitutes professional misconduct in and of itself. The phrase "Professional or other misconduct" is used in this section. Since not all events are related to the profession, they may amount to misconduct, such as a conviction for a crime even if the crime was not committed in a professional capacity.

According to Section 35, when the State Bar Council receives a complaint, it will investigate it and refer the case to its disciplinary committee. The disciplinary committee will then schedule a hearing in which the lawyer and the Advocate-General (who represents the state) will be given the opportunity to speak and present their case.

After hearing all the arguments, the disciplinary committee may make one of four decisions −

  • They can dismiss the complaint,

  • Give the lawyer a warning,

  • Suspend their license to practice for a period of time or

  • Remove them from the list of lawyers who can practice in the state.

If a lawyer is suspended, they won't be allowed to work in any court or before any authority in India for the duration of the suspension.

Disciplinary powers of the Bar Council of India

Section 36 of the Act states that if the Bar Council of India receives a complaint about a lawyer who is not registered with any state bar council and has committed professional or other misconduct, the case will be referred to its disciplinary committee for disposal.

The Bar Council of India's disciplinary committee has the power to withdraw any disciplinary actions already taking place against a lawyer under investigation by a state bar council and take over the case themselves. They may do this on their own initiative, in response to a report from the state bar council, or in response to an application from a party with an interest in the case.

Disposal of Disciplinary Proceedings

Section 36 B specifies the time frame within which a State Bar Council's disciplinary committee must conclude proceedings on an advocate complaint. If the disciplinary committee does not complete the proceedings within one year of receiving the complaint or initiating the proceedings at the request of the State Bar Council, the case will be transferred to the Bar Council of India. The proceedings will then be dealt with by the Bar Council of India as if they were withdrawn for inquiry under sub-section (2) of section 36.

There is, however, an exception to this rule. If proceedings against an advocate were already pending before the disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council when the Advocates (Amendment) Act, 1973 came into effect, that committee had six months from the date the Act came into effect or one year from the date the State Bar Council received the complaint or initiated the proceedings, whichever was later. If they do not, the proceedings will be transferred to the Bar Council of India for disposal under sub-section (1).

Appeal to the Bar Council of India

According to Section 37, if a person is aggrieved by a decision made by the disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council under Section 35, they can appeal to the Bar Council of India within sixty days of being notified of the decision. The Advocate-General of the State can also make an appeal.

The appeal will be heard by the disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of India, which can make a decision it thinks is appropriate, including changing the punishment given by the State Bar Council's disciplinary committee. However, the Bar Council of India cannot change the decision in a way that harms the person making the appeal without giving them a chance to be heard.

Appeal to the Supreme Court

The process for appealing a decision rendered by the Bar Council of India's disciplinary committee under sections 36 or 37 is outlined in Section 38. Any person who is aggrieved by such an order, as well as the Attorney-General of India or the Advocate-General of the State in question, has sixty days from the communication of the order to file an appeal with the Supreme Court, according to the law. The Supreme Court has the authority to issue any order it sees fit, including changing the penalty imposed by the Bar Council of India's disciplinary committee.


The behavior of advocates is an important aspect of the legal profession. The Advocates Act of 1961 establishes a code of ethics for advocates, which includes standards for their behavior in court, with their clients, and with society. Advocates must always maintain a high level of professionalism and ethical behavior.

Any violation of the code of ethics can lead to disciplinary action by the Bar Council of India. Advocates can ensure that they fulfill their duty to their clients and society while also upholding the integrity of the legal profession by adhering to the code of ethics and maintaining a high standard of conduct.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.What constitutes professional misconduct by advocates?

Ans. Professional misconduct by advocates may include misconduct in court, misconduct toward clients, misconduct toward society, professional negligence, and dishonesty.

Q2. What are the consequences of professional misconduct by advocates?

Ans. If an advocate is found guilty of professional misconduct, the Bar Council of India may suspend his/her license to practice law.

Q3. What is the role of the Bar Council of India in regulating the conduct of advocates?

Ans. The Bar Council of India is responsible for regulating the conduct of advocates in India. It may take disciplinary action against advocates who violate the code of ethics.

Q4. What is the importance of the conduct of advocates under the Advocates Act, of 1961?

Ans. The conduct of advocates is an important aspect of the legal profession. Advocates are expected to maintain a high standard of professionalism and ethical conduct to uphold the rule of law and maintain the integrity of the legal profession.

Updated on: 08-May-2023


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