Can A Non-Lawyer Appear For A Litigant in the Court?

Does it seem synonyms with “Asking for treatment from a non-doctor in the hospital?” Same as doctors are experts in curing the diseases similarly lawyers are experts in interpreting the law.

A lawyer and non-lawyer terms are often a misnomer and are confused with an advocate. A lawyer is someone who knows the law, whereas an advocate may be a lawyer registered with any bar council and bound by Advocate Act. Anyone can represent himself or herself in any court of India. But this will be done when the court is satisfied that one can represent oneself. If an individual does not possess sufficient means or is incarcerated then a lawyer would be provided by the state. Even a law graduate cannot represent somebody else in any court of law unless he/she is registered as an advocate with any bar council of India.

A non-lawyer can draft the petition and represent himself. He or she can file an application and may argue within the court as long as the court grants him or her permission to proceed with the case as per Section 32 of the Advocates Act, 1961.

“Power of Court to allow appearances especially cases. —Notwithstanding anything contained during this Chapter, any court, authority, or person may permit an individual, not enrolled as an advocate under this Act, to look before it or him in any particular case”

Therefore, one gets the statutory right to defend one’s case through Advocate Act in India. This rule is subject to certain exceptions.

The corpus of Indian laws is unfathomable and incapable of being understood so easily. Allowing knowledgeable lawyers to represent you save some time for both the litigants and courts. It also protects your interest. What if the other party hires an eminent lawyer?

In the Supreme court and High court, only lawyers can represent others. In other tribunals like consumer forums, labour courts and similar, someone who is skilled and educated like Chartered accountant and company secretaries can appear and represent others. However, the Indian Constitution only forbids the accused to be a witness against himself.

All such courts and tribunals have their own rules for procedural implementation and these rules also talks about contending case without an advocate.

-Rules are regulatory provisions and do not prohibit the practice of law.

-These Rules prescribe that an individual who is a non-advocate is obligated to file an application along with local advocate who is registered with bar. There is no absolute bar to appear pro se.

-In fact, with the leave of the Court, a non-advocate remains permitted to appear even without local advocates. [Jamshed Ansari vs High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and others (2016) 10 SCC 554]

I) Provision for fighting one’s case as per the various act:

1) The Provision of Civil Procedure Court-

Order XII Rule 1 of CPC:

Any application, appearance or act in court are often made by the following-

a) The party face to face, that’s a celebration involved during a case.

b) Any recognized agent of such part.

c) By a pleader, appearing, acting, applying on his behalf.

d) This rule is as per the court’s discretion.

2) Section 32 Of Advocate Act, 1961.

As per Section 32 of Advocates Act, 1961.

“Power of Court to allow appearances especially cases. —Notwithstanding anything contained during this Chapter, any court, authority, or person may permit an individual, not enrolled as an advocate under this Act, to look before it or him in any particular case”

II) Few Courts where it is Compulsory to Fight Your Case with minimal aid of advocates:

1)Rule 37 Of Family Courts (Rules),1988:

The Court may permit the parties to be represented by a lawyer in court. Such permission may be granted if the case involves complicates questions of law or facts, if the Court is of the view that the party in person will not be in a position to conduct his/her case adequently or for any other reason. The reason for granting permission shall be recorded in the order. Permission so granted may be revoked by the Court at any stage of the proceeding if the court considers it just and necessary.

2) Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

It contains no provision which bars the representation of the parties by a legal practitioner. On the opposite hand, there’s a sign within the Explanation to sub-section (8) to section 31 suggesting that appearance by lawyers is permitted.

3) Consumer Protection Act 

A review of the provisions of the Act discloses that the quasi-judicial bodies/authorities/agencies created by the Act referred to as District Forums, State Commissions and therefore the National Commission are not court though invested a number of the powers of a civil court. They are quasi-judicial tribunals brought into existence to render inexpensive and speedy remedies to consumers.

It is equally clear that these forums/commissions were not alleged to supplant but supplement the existence judiciary system. The main purpose for the establishment of tribunals is to provide speedy resolution of the dispute.

The same is that the provision for arguing before the Industrial Disputes Act, the tax Act and therefore the nuisance tax Act or the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act. Such instances can be multiplied.

Accordingly, A Non- Lawyer can contest his case up to the Supreme Court but cannot do it as an Advocate. The developing Indian Jurisprudence on various laws suggests that the courts have adopted a substantive approach in interpreting rights.

This article is authored by Adv. Himadri Gotecha, Mumbai. (BLS LLB from KES’s Jayantilal H. Patel Law college)

Also Read – How to file Domestic Violence Cases?

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