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Iranian Bar Associations: Struggle for Independence

“In order to purge and cleanse the Bar Association, the Supervision Council of the Ministry of Justice shall be authorized to suggest a commission composed of five attorneys to be appointed by the Revolution Council of the IRI; and until the full purging no further election of the Board of Directors may be held; and the current Board of Directors must keep their legal authorities.
Note 1- The Commission shall perform its duties within a period of six months. Other laws in contradiction to the current Law shall be nullified.
Note 2- The Crimes and offences which contradicts the purging are the same as stipulated in the Law of Purging the Government Employees adopted by the Revolution Council.”

Nevertheless, after the Islamic Consultative Council (Parliament) was established in February 1981 following nationwide elections, as well as the formation of a Supreme Council of Judiciary under the new Constitution, the aforementioned law was never implemented and a Commission was never established. Despite this lack of implementation, the election still was not held and the Revolutionary Court took over the duties of the planned commissions. While article 17 of the Law of Independence of the Bar Associations stipulates that no attorney can be suspended or barred from practicing law without a final decision of the Disciplinary Court for Attorneys, the licences of 141 attorneys were revoked on the basis of the application of the Public Prosecutor of the Revolution, and with the decision of the Revolutionary Shari’a Judge. The disbarments were based on accusations of supporting or otherwise having ties to the Pahlavi Regime and its security forces, or maintaining ties to perceived anti-Revolutionary ideologies such as Baha’ism, Zionism, Communism, or Imperialism and were implemented on these three dates over a roughly six month period:

1-      On 18 June 1983 the Licenses of 57 attorneys were revoked

2-      On 30 August 1983 the Licenses of 32 attorneys were revoked

3-      On 13 December 1983 the Licenses of 52 attorneys were revoked

Previously, some Directors of the Bar Association, including Abdolhamid Ardalan (the then Chairperson of the Central Bar Association) and Dr. Mohammad Taghi Damghani had been arrested. In another event, the Bar Association was evacuated from the third floor of the Palace of Justice and its belongings and documents were thrown into the yard. Consequently, most of the Directors of the Bar fled the Country and the Board of Directors could not perform its duties and protect its members. Indeed, all functions of the Bar, including the enforcement of disciplinary proceedings to regulate attorney malpractice and the provision of legal aid, was effectively stopped in practice.

It was four years later that the issue of the functioning of Bar Associations was considered by the Supreme Council of the Judiciary and it was decided that the election of the Board should be held. In this regard, several attorneys were invited to a session of the Council on May 7, 1984 and, instead of planning the election, unexpectedly, Goudarz Eftekhar Jahromi[4], one of the attorneys present in the session who at the time was also a member of the Guardian Council, was appointed as the Supervisor of the Bar Association and the era of supervision of the Judiciary over the Bar Associations in Iran began.

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Lawyers, Right to counsel