Priests and Nuns as Lawyers:Appeal in SC

via published on July 5, 2006

Supreme Court admits BCI appeal against nuns and priests practising law

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday permitted for hearing a petition filed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) challenging a Kerala High Court order permitting nuns and priests to practise law.

The Kerala High Court on March 21 permitting nuns and priests to practise law, held that the clergy – be it a priest or nun – as a class professing religion would not “attract the bar for entry into the profession as created under the Bar Council Rules.”

The apex court Bench comprising of Justices B N Agrawal and P P Naolekar has asked respondents Thomas P C (also known as Father Thomas Puddussery), Mary Tresa P J (aka S R Teena Jose) and Thressia C T (aka M Tessy) to file their replies to the BCI appeal.

However, the court has declined to stay the March 21 order of the Kerala High Court observing that the question of law raised in the BCI appeal needed to be settled decisively.

In its appeal the BCI said that the High Court failed to understand that the priesthood is a full-time profession and under the rules framed by the State Bar Council and the Advocates Act a person already in a profession cannot be enrolled as an advocate.

The court erred in not appreciating that the priests and nuns have different control and commitments, the BCI said.

The BCI submitted that although the nuns and priests remain as ordinary human beings they cease to be a civil person by the convention of undergoing the ceremony.

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