Ram Yadav Vs. Hanum Das Khatry  Insc 343 (26 July 2001)
Thomas & Y.K. Sabharwal Y.K.Sabharwal,J.
profession is not a trade or business. It is a noble profession.
belonging to this profession have not to encourage dishonesty and corruption
but have to strive to secure justice to their clients if it is legally
possible. The credibility and reputation of the profession depends upon the
manner in which the members of the profession conduct themselves. There is
heavy responsibility on those on whom duty has been vested under the Advocates
Act, 1961 to take disciplinary action when the credibility and reputation of
the profession comes under a clout on account of acts of omission and
commission by any member of the profession.
this appeal while issuing notice this Court had stayed till further orders the
impugned order passed by the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of
India. We admit the appeal and heard learned counsel for the parties. On facts,
there is not much dispute. The facts material for the decision of this appeal
briefly are as follows:
complaint filed by the appellant against the respondent, Advocate before Bar
Council of Rajasthan was referred to Disciplinary Committee constituted by the
State Bar Council. In substance, the complaint was that respondent while
appearing as a counsel in a suit pending in a civil court wrote a letter to Mahant
Rajgiri his client inter alia stating that his another client has told him that
the concerned judge accepts bribe and he has obtained several favourable orders
from him in his favour; if he can influence the judge through some other
gentleman, then it is different thing, otherwise he should send to him a sum of
Rs.10,000/- so that through the said client the suit is got decided in his (Mahant
Rajgiri) favour. The letter further stated that if Mahant can personally win
over the judge on his side then there is no need to spend money. This letter is
not disputed. In reply to complaint, respondent pleaded that the services of the
Presiding Judge were terminated on account of illegal gratification and he had
followed the norms of professional ethics and brought these facts to the
knowledge of his client to protect his interest and the money was not sent by
his client to him.
these circumstances it was urged that the respondent had not committed any
State Bar Council noticing that the respondent had admitted the contents of the
letter came to the conclusion that it constitutes misconduct.
order the State Bar Council stated that keeping in view the interest of the
litigating public and the legal profession such a practice whenever found has
to be dealt with in an appropriate manner. Holding respondent guilty of
misconduct under Section 35 of the Advocates Act, State Bar Council suspended
him from practice for a period of two years with effect from 15th June, 1997.
respondent challenged the aforesaid order before the Disciplinary Committee of
Bar Council of India. By order dated 31st July, 1999, the Disciplinary Committee of Bar
Council of India comprising of three members enhanced the punishment and
directed that the name of the respondent be struck off from the roll of
advocates, thus debarring him permanently from the practice. The concluding
paragraph of the order dated 31st July, 1999
the facts and circumstances of the case, we also heard the appellant as to the
punishment since the advocate has considerable standing in the profession. He
has served as advocate for 50 years and it was not expected of him to indulge
in such a practice of corrupting the judiciary or offering bribe to the judge
and he admittedly demanded Rs.10,000/- from his client and he orally stated
that subsequently order was passed in his client's favour. This is enough to
make him totally unfit to be a lawyer by writing the letter in question. We
cannot impose any lesser punishment than debarring him permanently from the
practice. His name should be struck off from the roll of advocates maintained
by the Bar Council of Rajasthan. Hereafter the appellant will not have any
right to appear in any Court of Law, Tribunal or any authority. We also impose
a cost of Rs.5,000/- to the appellant which should be paid by the appellant to
the Bar Council of India which has to be paid within two months." The
respondent filed a review petition under Section 44 of the Advocates Act
against the order dated 31st
July, 1999. The review
petition was allowed and the earlier order modified by substituting the
punishment already awarded permanently debarring him with one of reprimanding
him. The impugned order was passed by the Disciplinary Committee comprising of
three members of which two were not members of the earlier committee which had
passed the order dated 31st
review petition was allowed by the Disciplinary Committee for the reasons,
which, in the words of the Committee, are these:
The Committee was under the impression as if it was the petitioner who had
written a letter to his client calling him to bribe the judge. But a perusal of
the letter shows that the petitioner has simply given a reply to the query put
by his client regarding the conduct of the judge and as such it remained a fact
that it was not a offer on the side of the delinquent advocate to bribe a
judge. This vital point which touches the root of the controversy seems to have
been ignored at the time of the passing the impugned order.
petitioner is an old man of 80 years. He had joined the profession in the year
1951 and during such a long innings of his profession, it was for the first
time that he conducted himself in such an irresponsible manner although he had
no intention to bribe.
Committee does not approve the writing of such a letter on the part of the
lawyer to his client but keeping in view the age and past clean record of the
petitioner in the legal profession the Committee is of the view that it would
not be appropriate to remove the advocate permanently from the roll of
advocates.......The Committee is of the considered view that ends of justice
would be met in case the petitioner is reprimanded for the omission he had
committed. He is warned by the Committee that he should not encourage such
activities in life and he should be careful while corresponding with his client.
view of the aforesaid observations, the review petition is accepted and the
earlier judgment of the Committee dated 31.7.1999 is modified to the extent and
his suspension for life is revoked and he is only reprimanded." We have
perused the record. The original order has been reviewed on non-existent
grounds. All the factors taken into consideration in the impugned order were
already on record and were considered by the Committee when it passed the order
dated 31st July, 1999. The power of review has not been
exercised by applying well settled principles governing the exercise of such
power. It is evident that the reasons and facts on the basis whereof the order
was reviewed had all been taken into consideration by the earlier Committee.
The relevant portion of the letter written by the advocate had been reproduced
in the earlier order. From that quotation it was evident that the said
Committee noticed that the advocate was replying to letter received from his
client. It is not in dispute that the respondent had not produced the letter
received by him from his client to which the admitted letter was sent requiring
his client to send Rs.10,000/- for payment as bribe to the concerned judge. We
are unable to understand as to how the Committee came to the conclusion that
any vital point in regard to the letter had been ignored at the time of the
passing of the order dated 31st July, 1999.
age and the number of years the advocate had put in had also been noticed in
the order dated 31st
July, 1999. We do not
know how the Committee has come to the conclusion that the respondent `had no
intention to bribe the judge'. There is nothing on the record to suggest it.
The earlier order had taken into consideration all relevant factors for coming
to the conclusion that the advocate was totally unfit to be a lawyer having
written such a letter and punishment lesser than debarring him permanently
cannot be imposed. The exercise of power of review does not empower a
Disciplinary Committee to modify the earlier order passed by another
Disciplinary Committee taking a different view of the same set of facts.
respondent was indeed guilty of a serious misconduct by writing to his client
the letter as aforesaid. Members of the legal profession are officers of the
court. Besides courts, they also owe a duty to the society which has a vital
public interest in the due administration of justice. The said public interest
is required to be protected by those on whom the power has been entrusted to
take disciplinary action. The disciplinary bodies are guardians of the due
administration of justice. They have requisite power and rather a duty while
supervising the conduct of the members of the legal profession, to inflict
appropriate penalty when members are found to be guilty of misconduct.
Considering the nature of the misconduct, the penalty of permanent debarment
had been imposed on the respondent which without any valid ground has been
modified in exercise of power of review. It is the duty of the bar councils to
ensure that lawyers adhere to the required standards and on failure, to take
appropriate action against them. The credibility of a council including its
disciplinary body in respect of any profession whether it is law, medicine,
accountancy or any other vocation depends upon how they deal with cases of
delinquency involving serious misconduct which has a tendency to erode the
credibility and reputation of the said profession. The punishment, of course,
has to be commensurate with the gravity of the misconduct.
present case, the earlier order considering all relevant aspects directed
expulsion of respondent from profession which order could not be lightly
modified while deciding a review petition. It is evident that the earlier
Committee, on consideration of all relevant facts, came to the conclusion that
the advocate was not worthy of remaining in the profession.
age factor and the factor of number of years put in by the respondent were
taken into consideration by the Committee when removal from the roll of the
State Council was directed. It is evident that the Bar Council considered that
a high standard of morality is required from lawyers more so from a person who
has put in 50 years in profession. One expects from such a person a very high
standard of morality and unimpeachable sense of legal and ethical propriety.
Since the Bar Councils under the Advocates Act have been entrusted with the
duty of guarding the professional ethics, they have to be more sensitive to the
potential disrepute on account of action of a few black sheeps which may shake
the credibility of the profession and thereby put at stake other members of the
bar. Considering these factors, Bar Council had inflicted in its earlier order
the condign penalty. Under these circumstances, we have no hesitation in
setting aside the impugned order dated 4th June, 2000 and restoring the original order of
Bar Council of India dated 31st July, 1999.
appeal is thus allowed in the above terms with costs quantified at Rs.10,000/-.