Civic body plans law council, sends officer to study PMC system

The panel will decide who will defend which of the over 4,000 cases the civic body is facing in various courts.

A BMC law officer has been sent to Pune to study the panel system for lawyers in the municipal corporation (PMC) there.

Additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani said, "We are looking at forming a council of law and have sent an officer to study the format and functioning. We have to still understand finer details of the panel functioning but are confident of forming the council within six months, as directed by Bombay High Court (HC)."

Depending on the type of case, the panel of 15-20 lawyers with private practice will decide who will defend which of the over 4,000 cases the civic body is facing in various courts.

Earlier this year, Bar Council of India (BCI) deleted an exception in its Advocates Act that allowed law officers of state governments and local councils to appear in courts and plead on behalf of their employers.

BCI said the change was to protect autonomy of advocates as members of the legal profession.

In October, HC ruled against BMC, which had petitioned the court against the deletion. HC feared "a conflict of duties and interest may arise", and noted the difference between an independent and salaried lawyer.

It said, "A full-time salaried employee is subject to the administrative control of the employer and is answerable to the employer for every aspect of the work rendered in the course of employment."

Adtani said, "The lawyers presently with BMC are employed on a contract basis. We will terminate these contracts so that they can practice privately as well."

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