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NEW DELHI: Lawyers, like other professionals, are now free to advertise their services on Internet as the Bar Council of India (BCI) on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it has relaxed its rules on the issue in view of the changing global scenario. In an affidavit filed through its secretary S Radhakrishnan, the BCI submitted that it has decided to permit such advertisements. The BCI's latest turnaround marks a significant departure from its earlier stand under which it took a stance that the legal profession was not a trade and, hence, advocates could not be permitted to advertise about their services. For this purpose it has amended Rule 36, Section IV of the BCI which earlier prohibited the legal fraternity from advertising their services. Under the amended rule, advocates can mention in their chosen websites, their names, telephone numbers, e-mail ID, professional qualification and areas of specialisation. However, the BCI submitted that such advertisements can be issued only within the parameters fixed by it under the amended regulations, and any breach of the same would invite disciplinary action. The regulatory body had earlier taken the view that unlike western countries where lawyers were permitted to advertise their services, the same cannot be permitted in India as it "cherished different ethos, social values and ethical norms." A bench headed by Justice B N Aggarwal which is hearing the matter took on record the BCI's latest affidavit. A section of the lawyers had challenged the BCI's regulations on advocates advertising their services.
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