Scanner on conduct of lawyers

SC requests Law Commission to examine regulatory options

By R. Balaji
  • Published 7.07.16
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New Delhi, July 6: The Supreme Court has appealed to the Law Commission to examine measures for regulating the conduct of lawyers.

"We request the Law Commission of India to go into all relevant aspects relating to regulation of the legal profession in consultation with all concerned at an early date. We hope the Government of India will consider taking further appropriate steps in the light of report of the Law Commission within six months thereafter," the apex court said.

The appeal was made while the court was debarring a lawyer from Uttar Pradesh for seven years for threatening a judge.

A bench of Justices A.R. Dave, Kurian Joseph and A.K. Goel passed the directive while expressing anguish that the Bar Council of India and the UP State Bar Council did not take any action against advocate Mahipal Singh Rana.

Although the Advocates Act of 1961 prescribes disciplinary action against lawyers who indulge in professional misconduct, the regulatory bodies are often accused of choosing to turn a blind eye or blink. In 2003, the apex court had banned all forms of strikes by lawyers but such protests are not uncommon in states like Bengal, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

The Law Commission is a recommendatory body created by an act of Parliament. Hence, the apex court has referred the misconduct question to the commission.

In this particular case, the apex court noted that although in 2006 itself it had asked the two bar councils to take action against Rana, the regulatory bodies did not take any step.

The bench passed the directive while disposing of an appeal filed by Rana challenging his conviction and two months' sentence imposed by Allahabad High Court for contempt of court.

Rana was convicted for threatening a civil judge in Etah in his court on two days in 2003 after adverse orders were passed against the advocate's relatives.

On the basis of a complaint lodged by the civil judge, Allahabad High Court found Rana guilty of criminal contempt and awarded him simple imprisonment of two months with a fine of Rs 2,000.

More than a decade later, the apex court refused to quash the conviction holding him guilty of contempt. However, the bench said in view of the age of Rana, it was waiving off the period of sentence. Instead, the court debarred him from practice for seven years.

The apex court also commented on the unacceptable conduct adopted by advocates across the country, saying appropriate laws should be in place to regulate their conduct.

"The appellant had refused to tender an apology for his conduct. His affidavit in support of stay vacation/modification and supplementary affidavit did not show any remorse and he had justified himself again and again, which also shows that he had no regard for the majesty of law," the Supreme Court said.