In The Matter of An Advocate of The
Supreme Court  INSC 68 (23 November 1955)
DAS, SUDHI RANJAN MUKHERJEE, BIJAN KR. (CJ)
AIYYAR, T.L. VENKATARAMA
CITATION: 1956 AIR 102 1955 SCR (2)1006
Bar Councils Act-Misconduct in capacity other
than professional-Jurisdiction of Court-Bar Councils Act (XXXVIII of 1926), s.
10-Supreme Court Rules, Order IV, Rule 30.
Section 10 of the Bar Councils Act confers on
the Court jurisdiction to take disciplinary action against an Advocate not
merely for professional misconduct but any other misconduct committed in any
other capacity as well and leaves it to the Court's discretion to take such
action as it thinks fit in any suitable case.
The Advocate-General of Bombay v. Three
Advocates ( I.L.R. 69 Bom. 57), In the matter of an Advocate (
T.L.R. 63 Cal. 867) and In re a Pleader (I.L.R.  Mad.
595), referred to.
In re Thomas James Wallace ( L.R. I
P.C. 283), and In re an Advocate of Benares (A.I.R.  All. 492), held
Consequently, in a case where an Advocate
figuring as an accused in a case under the Bombay Prohibition Act was
persistently rude to and contemptuous of the trial Magistrate and did all in
his power to hold up the trial and bring the administration of justice into
contempt, be was guilty of misconduct and as such was liable to be suspended
Din person M. C. Setalvad, Attorney-General
for India, as amicus curiae, 1007 1955. November 23. The Judgment of the Court
was delivered by DAS J.-This Rule was issued by this Court under Order IV, rule
30 of the Rules of this Court after receipt of a report from the Bombay High
Court that that High Court had, by its order made on the 13th October 1955 in Civil Application No.
1506 of 1955, suspended the respondent from
practice as an Advocate of that High Court for a period of one year from the
date of the said order. By the rule the respondent has been required to show
cause why, in view of the matter specified in the judgment and order of the
Bombay High Court referred to above, appropriate action, disciplinary or
otherwise, should not be taken against him by this Court.
The respondent is an Advocate of some
standing in the Bombay High Court and as such was also enrolled as an Advocate
of this Court. It appears that in the earlier part of the year 1953 the
Advocate was prosecuted before Mr. Sonavane, one of the Presidency Magistrates
at Bombay, on a charge of having committed an offence under the Bombay
Prohibition Act. The trial lasted from July 1953 to November 1953. On the 18th
November 1953 the Magistrate convicted the Advocate of the offence with which
he was charged and sentenced him to rigorous imprisonment for one month and to
a fine of Rs. 201 and to rigorous imprisonment of four weeks in default of
payment of the fine. The Advocate went up on appeal to the High Court. The High
Court on the 24th February 1954 upheld the conviction but altered the sentence
to one of fine of Rs. 1,000 only.
In the meantime, on the 25th November 1953,
the trial Magistrate, Mr. Sonavane, made a report to the Registrar (Appellate
Side) of the Bombay High Court as to the conduct of the Advocate who appeared
in person as the accused before him. On a perusal of that report the Hon'ble the
Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court constituted a Tribunal consisting of
three members of the Bar Council to enquire into the conduct of the Advocate.
The Tribunal issued a summons 1008 against the Advocate intimating that it
would enquire into his conduct as disclosed in:(a)the report dated the 25th
November 1953 of Shri T. A. Sonavane, B.A., LL.B., Presidency Magistrate, 18th
Court, Girgaum, Bombay, to the Registrar, High Court, Appellate Side, Bombay,
regarding Case No. 593/P of 1953 tried by him, and (b) the judgment recorded by
the High Court of Judicature at Bombay in Criminal Appeal No. 1532 of 1953
(with Criminal Appeal No. 1564 of 1953) upholding the judgment and order of
conviction passed against him by the aforesaid learned Magistrate in the
The proceedings appear to have been somewhat
protracted by reason of frequent objections made and petitions filed by the
respondent but eventually on or about the 16th March 1955 the respondent
forwarded to the Secretary to the Bar Council Tribunal a copy of a letter
addressed by him to the Registrar, High Court, Bombay, and requested the
Tribunal to send a report to the High Court in terms of his pleading guilty to
the charges levelled against him. He concluded the letter by expressing regret
for having wasted the time of the Tribunal. In his letter to the Registrar, the
respondent enclosed a separate written apology unconditionally withdrawing his
contention that the proceedings before the Tribunal were misconceived in law
and admitting that the High Court had full authority in law to refer the matter
to the Bar Council Tribunal and further that the statements made by Mr.
Sonavane in his report were true except in two respects therein specified. On
the 28th March 1955 the respondent submitted an additional statement clarifying
and supplementing his previous apology.
Thereupon the Tribunal made a report to the
High Court. By this report the Tribunal held, on the respondent's own
admission., the allegations in the report of Mr. Sonavane to be proved and
recommended that a very serious notice should be taken of the respondent's
conduct. As regards the second item in the summons the Tribunal held that the
mere conviction of the respondent under the Prohibition Act did not amount 1009
to professional or other misconduct under section 10 of the Indian Bar Councils
Act and, therefore, found him not guilty of that charge.
On a perusal of that report the High Court
issued notice to the respondent for final hearing of the matter. The matter
came up for final disposal before a Bench consisting of the Chief Justice and
Tendolkar, J. on the 13th October 1955.
Learned counsel appearing for the respondent
offered an unconditional and unqualified apology on behalf of the respondent
and pleaded that the ends of justice would be met if the Court only
administered a warning to the respondent.
After considering the report of the Tribunal
the High Court took the view that the misconduct of the respondent was so
serious and so grave that a deterrent punishment must be imposed on him.
Accordingly, taking everything into consideration, the High Court suspended the
respondent from practice for a period of one year from the date of that order.
The respondent's application for a certificate of fitness for appeal to this
Court having been refused, the respondent filed a petition for special leave to
appeal before us. That petition has, however, been dismissed by us.
The rule for disciplinary action now remains
to be dealt with.
In answer to the rule the respondent has
filed a petition by way of showing cause. Paragraph 7 of that petition runs as
follows:"7. That the report of the learned Presidency Magistrate, 18th
Court, is a highly exaggerated, garbled and manifestly incorrect version of the
incidents that occurred during the trial of the case. And looking to the
circumstances under which the petitioner was more or less compelled to tender a
humiliating apology, this Hon'ble Court be pleased to direct that a proper
inquiry be held in the matter by or under the directions of this Hon'ble
Appearing in person before us the respondent
has contended with a certain amount of vehemence that he had not had any fair
deal before the Tribunal, that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction to enter upon
the enquiry inasmuch as the misconduct complained of 1010 was not committed by
him in his capacity as an Advocate, for he appeared in person as the accused in
the Prohibition case, that the Tribunal had at one stage held that it had no
jurisdiction but had without giving him a hearing gone back on that decision
and declined to decide that question in his presence, that the Tribunal failed
to formulate any formal charge, that he made an application to the High Court
under article 227 for quashing the proceedings for want of jurisdiction but the
High Court had rejected that application and declined to give him a certificate
of fitness for appeal to this Court and pointed out various other matters which
he characterised as showing prejudice and bias on the part of the Tribunal.
It was pointed out to the respondent that his
application for special leave to appeal from the judgment and order of the High
Court having been dismissed we were not, in this Rule, concerned with the
proceedings in the Bombay High Court or before the Tribunal of the Bar Council
as observed by this Court in the matter of Mr. G, a Senior Advocate of the
Supreme Court(1). The respondent then fell back upon paragraph 7 of his
petition quoted above and asked this Court to hold a fresh enquiry into the
matter. From the judgment of the Bombay High Court which is referred to in the
Rule issued herein it appears that the respondent had admitted the truth of
everything contained in Mr. Sonavane's report except two matters only. In his
present petition showing cause he does not, apart from a vague allegation that
the report is an exaggerated, garbled and manifestly incorrect version of the
incidents that occurred during the trial of the case, refer to any particular
statement therein which is exaggerated, garbled or incorrect. In view of his
unconditional admission of the truth of the statements in the report of Mr.
Sonavane we are not prepared to permit him to go back on the same on such vague
allegations as are to be found in paragraph 7 of his petition. It is needless
for us to emphasise that a person holding the responsible position of an
Advocate of a High Court (1)  1 S.C.R. 490, 495. 1011 and of this Court
cannot be permitted to play with the Court in the way this Advocate has done.
He admitted the correctness of the report, confessed his guilt and tendered an
unconditional apology evidently in the hope that he would get away with it by
merely tendering an apology. Finding that the tactics did not work with the
High Court as he expected the same to do, he now wants -to change his tactics
by asking for an enquiry which he had himself avoided by means of his admission
and apology. This we are not prepared to permit him to do. We have carefully
gone through the report of Mr. Sonavane and we find ourselves in entire
agreement with the High Court when it says that that report makes an extremely
sad reading. The conduct of the respondent in the criminal trial was, as
pointed out by the High Court, entirely indefensible by any standard. It
discloses a continuous and persistent attempt on the part of the respondent to
be rude to and contemptuous of the Magistrate, to hold up the trial and to do
everything in his power to bring the administration of justice into contempt.
Such a conduct, in our opinion, merits severe
The respondent has drawn our attention to the
case of In re Thomas James Wallace(1) which was followed in In re An Advocate
of Benares(2). We do not conceive that the Privy Council intended to lay down
any fixed and rigid rule of law or did anything more than indicate the course
which, in the circumstances of that case, it considered to be reasonable,
satisfactory and convenient and the Allahabad case simply followed the same. As
has been held by a Full Bench of the Bombay High Court in The Advocate-General
of Bombay v. Three Advocates(3), the Indian Legislature by using the words
"professional or other misconduct" in section 10 of the Indian Bar
Councils Act intended to confer on the Court disciplinary jurisdiction to take
action in all cases of misconduct whether in a professional or other capacity
leaving it to the discretion of Court to take action only in suitable (1)
 L.R. I.P.C. 283. (2) A.I.R. 1932 All. 492.
(3)  I.L.R. 59 Bom. 57.
128 1012 cases. To the like effect is the
decision of a Special Bench of the Calcutta High Court in the matter Of an
Advocate,(1). The pleader concerned in the case of In re a Pleader(2) was
certainly not, by shouting slogans in Court, functioning as an Advocate,
nevertheless he was dealt with under section 13(f) of the Legal Practitioners
Wallace's case (supra) was not a decision on
any statutory provision such as we have in the Legal Practitioners Act or the
Bar Councils Act.
For the reasons stated above and in view of
the conduct of the Advocate seen in the light of the surrounding circumstances
we are clearly of opinion that the Advocate should, by reason of his having
indulged in conduct unworthy of a member of the honourable profession to which
he belongs, be suspended from practice for some time. He is an Advocate of this
Court and according to a majority decision of this Court he is entitled, under
the Supreme Court Advocates (Practice in High Courts) Act, to exercise his
profession in all Courts throughout the Union of India. Any suspension for a
period less than the period fixed by the Bombay High Court will obviously lead
to serious anomaly and inconvenience. We accordingly direct that the Advocate
concerned be suspended from practice for a period coterminous with the period
of suspension fixed by the Bombay High Court, namely, up to the 13th October,
(1)  I.L.R. 63 Cal. 867.
(2) I.L.R.  Mad. 459.