Court to decide on nuns, priests enrolling as lawyers

New Delhi, India - The Supreme Court Tuesday admitted special leave petitions filed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) against a Kerala High Court judgment holding that nuns and priests are not disqualified from enrolment to practice as advocates.

Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice P.P. Naolekar, however, did not stay the operation of the impugned judgment.

The bench, after hearing senior counsel P.P. Rao for the BCI issued notice to Thomas P.C. alias Thomas Pudussery, Mary Treasa P.J. alias Sister Teena Jose and Thressia C.T alias M. Tessy, who were allowed to enroll by the Kerala High Court.

The bench also issued notice to the Bar Council of Kerala and said the hearing on the appeal would be expedited.

The BCI had sought quashing of the impugned judgment and an interim stay of its operation.

The BCI contended that the high court in its judgment of March 21 had erred in not appreciating that being a nun or priest was a profession and under the rules framed by the State Bar Council and the Advocates Act, one already in another profession was not entitled to enroll in the legal profession.

It said that the high court had erred in not appreciating that priests and nuns had different controls and commitments.

It also said that though they remain 'ordinary human beings', they ceased to be a civil person by their convention as priest or nun by undergoing that ceremony.

The Canon Law also understood nuns and priests as being in a fulltime profession and hence they did not have the liberty to enroll as advocates, the BCI claimed.