The Delhi High Court has put on hold an order and a public notice issued by two SDMs prohibiting lawyers from practicing or appearing before them in marriage registration matters.
While staying the order and public notice, Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva made it clear that no advocate shall solicit work or cause any harassment to people going to SDM office for registration of marriages.
“It is directed that till the next date of hearing, the operation of the impugned public notice and the impugned order shall remain stayed. The respondents (SDMs) are directed not to deny entry or prevent bona fide advocates from functioning and assisting their clients for the purpose of registration of their marriages.
“It is however, clarified that no advocate shall solicit work at the office of the SDM or cause any harassment to the people who are coming for registration of marriages in contravention of the Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette as prescribed by the Bar Council of India,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on September 20.
It also issued notice to and sought response of the two Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) of Punjabi Bagh and Hauz Khas, appointed as the marriage officers of their area, on a plea by some lawyers challenging the prohibition.
The lawyers, in their plea, have said that registration of marriages is mandatory as per Delhi (Compulsory Registration of Marriage) Order, 2014, issued pursuant to directions of the Supreme Court.
Advocate Gaurav Sharma, who appeared for the petitioners, contended that lawyers assist their clients in getting marriages registered as there are various legal formalities to be performed for registration in the form of submission of applications, documents and affidavits.
He said there were no rules or guidelines whereby such a notice or order could have been issued prohibiting advocates from entering the office of the SDMs for the purpose of assisting their clients in getting their marriages registered.
The lawyers, in their plea, alleged that consequent to the said order of July 11, and the public notice of April 18, the advocates, who are appearing before the SDMs were being put to great embarrassment as the staff in the office was preventing their entry.
They have contended that the said public notice and order are in contravention of the very provisions of the Advocates Act and the right to livelihood of the lawyers.
On the other hand, the lawyer appearing for the SDMs contended there was no intention to bar lawyers from practicing, however, the order and public notice became necessary as some advocates or persons appearing in the robes of advocates were harassing people who were coming for the registration of their marriages by chasing them and soliciting work from them.
The lawyer contended that this was leading to a chaotic situation and harassment to not only the SDMs but also the persons who were going there to get their marriages registered.