The Advocates’ Act, 1961 consolidates and amends the law relating to the legal profession. It provides for an autonomous Bar Council in each State and a Bar Council of India consisting of members elected from State Bar Councils. The salient features of the Act are:
(1) the establishment of an all India Council and a common roll of advocates; (2) the integration of the Bar into a single class of legal practitioners known as Advocates; (3) the prescription of uniform qualification for the admission of persons to be advocates; (4) the division of advocates into senior advocates and other advocates; (5) the creation of Bar Councils with autonomous powers one for the whole of India and one for each State. Thus Bar Council of Kerala is a Statutory Body constituted under Sec. 3 (c) of the Advocates Act 1961.
The functions of a State Bar Council Sec.6( 1) of the Act are:
(a) to admit person as advocates on its roll; (b) to prepare and maintain such roll; (c) to entertain and determine cases of misconduct against advocates on its roll; (d) to safeguard the right, privilages and interest of advocates on its roll; (e) to promote and support law reforms; (ee) to conduct seminars and organise talks on legal topics by eminent jurists and publish journals and papers of legal interest; (eee) to organise legal aid to the poor in the prescribed manner; (f) to manage and invest the funds of the Bar Council (g) to provide for the election of its members; (h) to perform all other functions conferred on it by or under the Act; (i) to do all other things necessary for discharging the aforesaid functions.
It is also the function of the Council to constitute one or more funds for the purpose of giving financial assistance, to organise Welfare Schemes for the indigent, disabled or other advocates and giving legal aid or advice to deserving. Disciplinary Committees are constituted under Section 9 of the Act: Rule making powers are conferred under Section 15 of the Act. It is under this section, Bar Council rules are made. Schemes are framed by the Bar Council of Kerala under Rule 40, Chapter II Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules, for giving loans to junior Advocates for purchase of books and grant to Bar Associations for development of Libraries. Schemes for giving financial assistance to advocates are also framed. Many advocates have availed these benefits. Legal aid rules were framed to give legal aid and legal advice to the deserving. At present, the Committee is constituted for the High Court only. The Government have passed the Kerala Advocates’ Welfare Fund Act 1980 which came into force with effect from 5-4-1981, to provide for the constitution of a welfare fund for the payment of retirement benefits to advocates and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. This is the first legislation in India for the Welfare of Advocates. The maximum amount available from the fund is fixed at Rs. 10 lakh. The council propose to implement more welfare schemes for advocates in the State.