Recently, a kerala woman lawyer was arrested on the accusation that she was practicing law from last 2 years without law degree and even without enrollment.
In very popular legal drama “Suits”, there is also a character “Mike Ross” who practices law without law degree just by deception and with the help of other lawyers of his firm who help to hide his identity. Mike does not get required punishment for his fraud but in real life, there are punishments for such frauds.
Indian law has proper punishment for fraud lawyers, in other words, for Indian mikes.
Punishment for practicing law without license
1. Advocates Act, 1961
Advocated Act regulates Indian legal profession. It establishes Bar councils at National level and in states. And further provides the requirement for the eligibility to be an Advocate and other laws which are required to regulate the legal profession. It gives the duty to state bar councils to enrol advocates and also to remove their names from enrollment register.
Section 33 of Advocates Act, only give right to the enrolled advocate to practice.
“No person shall, be entitled to practise in any court or before any authority or person unless he is enrolled as an advocate under this Act.”
Section 45 of Advocates act, provides the punishment for the person who was practicing before any authority but s/he was not entitled to practices. s/he shall be punishable with imprisonment to maximum 6 months.
Any person who practises in any court or before any authority or person, in or before whom he is not entitled to practise under the provisions of this Act, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months.
2. Indian Penal Code
Advocates act provide little punishment for offence of illegal practice but Indian penal code 1860, give proper punishment for the fake lawyers.
When a person does illegal practice, s/he does not play fraud to legal profession but also cheat legal profession and entire public. Thus, a fake lawyer may be prosecuted for cheating under below mentioned sections-
Punishment for cheating (Section 417)- it provides that whoever cheats shall be punished with imprisonment of maximum one year or with fine or with both.
Cheating by Personation (Section 419)- It provides that whoever cheats by personation shall be punished with imprisonment of maximum three years or with fine or with both.
As per Section 416, a person is said to “cheat by personation” if he cheats by pretending to be some other person, or representing to be any other person.
As this is also logical, law does not allow person to practice if they don’t have proper requirement for practice such as degree of law, license, or age. But it seems that law does not give strict punishment to fake lawyers, however, other provisions of IPC fill the vacuum.
But always remember, if you are thinking to practice without law degree or enrollment, then you are preparing for danger to yourself and stain of this case will be remained forever in your life.