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The Gujarat High Court has dismissed a reference made to it by a sessions judge on whether an advocate can continue to represent his client in a criminal case even after the client’s death.A division bench of Justice Jayant Patel and Justice S.R. Brahmbhatt dismissed the reference made to it by Sessions Judge P.B. Desai and sent the case back to him to decide.

The high court, in its judgment made available Wednesday, said that no reasons were given by the sessions judge to justify that it was a fit case for making a reference.The sessions judge made the reference around four months back in a corruption case linked to a 2008 land deal.

Pankaj Modi in his complaint had alleged the involvement of officials of the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority (AUDA) in the case.Modi said that an AUDA official and five others indulged in corrupt practices by allowing his plot near Vinzol, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city, to be sold in a fraudulent manner.

The complaint named Nila Kapadia, the then coordination officer of AUDA. He also named his family members – Himanshu Modi and Nalini Modi – and two others in the fraudulent sale of his plot.Modi said that along with his relatives, he was a co-owner of four pieces of land. He claimed that his brother and mother in collusion with the revenue authorities sold off the land to the AUDA without taking his consent.

Modi was represented in court by his lawyer Vinod Brahmbhatt. While the case was pending in court, Pankaj Modi died but his lawyer carried on the legal battle.Finding a prima facie merit in the case following the lawyer’s representation, the sessions court ordered registration of a criminal case against the five people named by Modi.

After Modi’s death, one of the accused moved an application stating that the litigant was no more and with his death his contract with lawyer Brahmbhatt too ended.The accused claimed counsel Brahmbhatt could not continue to represent Modi in the case, and demanded the case should be handled by a public prosecutor.

Modi’s lawyer opposed the accused person’s application, and alleged that at one stage the prosecution tried to favour the accused by supporting a police report suggesting closure of the case.

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