The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cheat lawyer’s licence cancelled

New Delhi, Dec. 3: A lawyer who betrayed the trust of three death row convicts and cheated them of their property has been barred from entering any court of law. His licence has been permanently cancelled.

The Supreme Court said the “relationship between an advocate and his client is of trust and, therefore, sacred. Such acts of professional misconduct and the frequency with which such acts are coming to light distresses as well as saddens us”.

Vikas Deshpande, appointed amicus curiae a “friend of court” in a criminal case, talked three persons sentenced to death for murder into believing that he would get them a reprieve by appealing in Bombay High Court. He also managed to trick them into putting their thumb impressions on stamp papers, giving him power of attorney to sell their properties.

Taking advantage of the rejection of the trio’s appeal in the high court, Deshpande sold their property. But before being hanged, the trio filed complaints against him. Their heirs, too, followed up the case, resulting in the Maharashtra Bar Council cancelling his licence and slapping a fine of Rs 25,000. When Deshpande appealed against the order in Bombay High Court, it upheld the punishment. He moved the Supreme Court, which, too, confirmed it.

A bench of Justices V.N. Khare and Ashok Bhan said: “Preservation of mutual trust between the advocate and the client is a must, otherwise the prevalent judicial system in the country would collapse and fail.”

The judges added: “Today, 100 per cent recruitment to the bench is from the Bar, starting from the subordinate judiciary to the higher judiciary. You cannot find honest and hard working judges unless you find honest, hard working lawyers in their chambers. Time has come when society in general, the respective bar councils in states and the judges should take note of the warning bells and take remedial steps and nip the evil or the curse, if we may say so, in the bud.”

The court observed that Deshpande took “advantage” of the situation and “obtained power of attorney on misrepresentation in his favour” and sold the property. “Further, the appellant (lawyer) fraudulently appropriated the sale proceeds for his gain. He has committed a grave professional misconduct,” they said.

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