A two-year-long verification drive by the Bar Council of India has found that only 55% to 60% of practicing lawyers in India are genuine, council chairman Manan Kumar Mishra told Chief Justice JS Khehar, according to The Times of India. Speaking at a gathering held to felicitate Khehar, Mishra said that the council had received only 6.5 lakh applications during its verification drive, while the 2012 election statistics state that 14 lakh of the voters were lawyers.

The findings of the verification drive will help to root out those who serve as lawyers illegally, the Bar Council chairman said. “This will certainly improve the quality of our legal profession,” Mishra added.

Chief Justice Khehar advised that the council launch an inquiry at the grassroots level, according to Times of India report. “It is not only about people with false degrees, but also about those with no degrees. These people work without a licence. They go to court and practice without any authority. We need to start much before, right from the institutions,” Khehar said.

Moreover, Mishra also highlighted the BCI’s concern over the government’s delay in releasing the Memorandum of Procedure – a document to guide the appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges.

On January 10, the Delhi Bar Council had alleged that universities were demanding a fee to verify certificates sent to them. The Delhi unit’s chief Balakrishnan had said that the organisation would have to pay Rs 4 crore to verify the certificates under their purview, Hindustan Times had reported. Rising complaints about fake lawyers had prompted the verification drive.