In an extraordinary strict judgment titled Dr Mukut Nath Verma vs Union of India, Through Home Secretary in Criminal Misc. Writ Petition No. – 6583 of 2021 that is rocking news headlines and was delivered on August 17, 2021, the Allahabad High Court imposed Rs 5 lakh costs on an advocate Dr Mukut Nath Verma after concluding that he unauthorisedly filed a writ petition on behalf of suspended and absconding IPS officer Mani Lal Patidar and also levelled serious allegations against state authorities and thereby misleading the Court. Not stopping here, the Bench of Justice Surya Prakash Kesarwani and Justice Piyush Agrawal who authored this judgment also went ahead and asked the Bar Council of Delhi to take appropriate action against the advocate in accordance with law. It goes without saying that Allahabad High Court has shown tremendous strictness in this judgment which is capturing news headlines all over!
To start with, it is first and foremost put forth in para 1 of this judgment that, “Heard Dr. Mukut Nath Verma, petitioner in person through video conferencing and Sri Manish Goel, learned Additional Advocate General assisted by Sri A.K. Sand, learned AGA for State-respondent.”
While stating the purpose of the writ petition, the Bench then states in para 2 that, “This writ petition has been filed praying for the following relief:
“I. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent no. 5 & 6 SHO P.S. Hazratganj Kotwali Lucknow UP and SHO Colonelganj, Prayagraj, UP to lodge FIRs on the basis of complaints dated 22.12.2020 and 07.07.2021 respectively under Section 154 Cr P C made by the petitioner and to provide copy of the FIRs thereof;
II. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent no. 12 Central Bureau of Investigation for investigating (C.B.I.) both the FIRs;
III. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent No. 1 & 2 to provide sufficient permanent security to the Petitioner in order to meet his client Mr. Mani Lal Patidar and to prosecute the petitions before the any Authorities as Petitioner has been receiving life threats from the agents of the Respondent no. 8, 9, 10 and 11;
IV. issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent no. 1, 2, 3 & 4 that a meeting be arranged with the petitioner and his client Mr. Mani Lal Patidar (IPS) so that the petitioner can collect his remaining pending fee and seek further instructions;
V. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent no. 2, 3 and 4 to initiate departmental proceedings against respondent no. 5,6,8, 9, 10 and 11;
VI. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent no. 2 and 4 to suspend respondent no. 5, 6, 8, 10 and 11 so that they can not influence the investigation any manner;
VII. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondent no. 7 to withhold the pension and all other dues of respondent no. 9 till the investigation is completed by the Central Bureau of Investigation and a clearance is given by the Hon’ble Courts;
VIII. Issue a writ, order or direction in the nature of mandamus to the respondents to provide protection to the life and limb of the petitioner. So that he may perform his legal/ professional duties continuously along with his social obligations towards weaker sections of the society and to assist/ work fearlessly through his pro bono litigation / legal awareness program/ professional work/ litigation/ pre litigation in Uttar Pradesh;
IX. To pass any other relief as this Court deems fit in the interest of justice, equity and good conscience.”
Be it noted, the Bench then observes in para 4 that, “In paragraphs-5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 21, 22, 29, 30, 34 and 44, the petitioner (an advocate) has made averments basically on personal knowledge relating to his client Mani Lal Patidar, as under:
“5. That the petitioner’s client Mr. Mani Lal Patidar, aged about 32 years, who hails from Rajasthan is young, disciplined, honest and energetic gentle person, besides a law-abiding citizen and a farsighted IPS Officer of 2014 batch, had been assigned UP Police Cadre. He belongs to a middle-class family having no political background. By nature, he is an innocent person, who on several occasions worked against the corruption and criminals so that every citizen of the district shall enjoy a secured peaceful life. Mr. Patidar was posted as Superintendent of Police in 2019 of Mahoba District (UP), who during his tenure has tirelessly working for the safety and security of the nation.
6. That respondent no.9 Mr. Hitesh Chandra Awasthi (IPS- Retd) the then Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh started pressurising Mr. Mani Lal Patidar (IPS) the then SP of Mahoba, UP in 2020 for the benefits of Khanan Mafia (mining mafia) and criminals, but Mr. Patidar did not support his illegal and devious plan. Later on, Respondent No.8-Mr. Awanish Kumar Awasthi (IAS) as Addl. Chief Secretary (Home) also started pressurising Mr. Mani Lal Patidar (IPS) the then SP of Mahoba, for the benefits of Khanan Mafias. But Mr. Patidar neither agreed to support the illegal works of khanan mafias nor their other criminal activities. Mr. Patidar had never compromised with honesty by following the footprints titled ‘Apraadh Mukt & Bhay Mukt Uttar Pradesh’ of Hon’ble the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh to set-right the illegal mining by Khanan Mafias, took stern legal actions against them from time to time. Consequently, illegal work of Khanan Mafias and such like criminals was stopped. Criminals started fleeing the city and because of which money flow from the Khanan Mafias to respondent no.9-Mr. Hitesh Chandra Awasthi (IPS Retd), the then Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh and respondent no.8-Mr. Awanish Kumar Awasthi (LAS), Addl. Chief Secretary (Home) has been stopped. Resulting, these officers started enmity and were hatching heinous conspiracy in connivance with Khanan Mafias as well as other type of criminals against the victim, Mr. Mani Lal Patidar.
7. That respondent nos.9 & 8, in a pre-planned manner, in joint collaboration for corruption with Khanan Mafias and such like criminals composed a video, which got viral on the web/social media with totally false and concocted allegations against Mr.Mani Lal Patidar for their ulterior motives, as they abetted Mr. Indrakant Tripathi (now deceased) to commit suicide and sending a video thereof in advance through electronic media which was totally based upon a criminal conspiracy hatched between them against Mr. Patidar. So that Mr. Patidar could be implicated in a false charge leading to his false conviction by the appropriate courts in India. Consequently, Mr. Indrakant Tripathi (now deceased) in pre-planned manner attempted to commit suicide by making a small wound on 8th September 2020, but unfortunately it turned out to be fatal and later he died after being admitted to hospital for 4-5 days.
8. That Hon’ble the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh suspended Mr. Mani Lal Patidar on 9.9.2020, for their ulterior motives and are sheltering the Khanan Mafias of the State of Uttar Pradesh. By this act, the morale of the criminals/Khanan Mafias get higher, however, lowered the dignity of an honest police officer by putting him into great difficulties. Due to pressure of Khanan Mafias and under the directions/help of respondent nos. 9 and 8, two FIRs have successfully been lodged with false and fabricated allegations with mala fide intentions i.e. FIR bearing No.0505 dated 10.9.2020, PS Kotwali Nagar, Mahoba, UP under sections 384 IPC, 7/13 of PC Act, 1988 and FIR no.0234 dated 11.9.2020 PS Kabrai, Mahoba, UP under sections 387, 307 (converted into 302 which finally converted into 306) 120B, IPC 1860, 7/13 PC Act, 1988 against Mr. Mani Lal Patidar (IPS) Ex-SP, Mahoba, UP and to investigate this matter, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was constituted by U.P. Government headed by Mr. Vijay Singh Meena (IPS) IG zone Varanasi.
9. That the petitioner has been authorised as a legal representative and Advocate by Mr.Mani Lal Patidar (IPS), Ex-Superintendent of Police, Mahoba (UP) by way of an email dated 21.9.2020 and requested to look into his abovesaid matters to collect the relevant papers qua his investigation and further to represent him on his behalf before the SIT Mahoba (UP) to put his version. True copy of the email dated 21.9.2020 authorising the petitioner as legal representative and Advocate sent by Mr.Mani Lal Patidar, (IPS) Ex. SP Mahoba U.P. is being filed herewith marked as Annexure No.3 to this writ petition.
14. That on 27.11.2020 (Friday) while Mr. Mani Lal Patidar was coming to meet the petitioner in relation to his legal matters and to pay pending professional fees, he has been arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police on the same day and was deliberately detained by the police authorities, under a pre-planned manner for their ulterior motives.
21. That looking at the gravity of the matter, the petitioner had given a written complaint which covered cognizable offences to respondent No. 05- SHO, PS Hazratganj Kotwali, Lucknow by hand on 22.12.2020 as well as through speed post to lodge an FIR against the main conspirator i.e. the then Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh-Mr. Hitesh Chandra Awasthi (IPS) now Retd. On 30.06.2021, the Addl. Chief Secretary (Home)- Mr.Awanish Kumar Awasthi (IAS) and others. A copy whereof had also been forwarded to the Lucknow Police Commissioner, Hon’ble the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Hon’ble Governor of Uttar Pradesh etc.
True copy of complaint letter dated 22.12.2020 addressed to the SHO, PS Hazratganj Kotwali, Lucknow regarding abduction, illegal detention, criminal conspiracy etc of Mr. Manilal Patidar is being filed herewith marked as Annexure No.10 to this writ petition.
22. That the petitioner vide his communications dated 24.12.2020 (email) and 26.12.2020 (speed post) addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of UP and Mr. Dhruv Kant Thakur (IPS), Police Commissioner, Lucknow had approached to direct the concerned police authorities to provide copy of the FIR and that if there is any doubt to the concern SHO/authority regarding allegation of charges or technical typing error mentioned in this earlier communication dated 22.12.2020 relates to the offences covered under Sections 109, 115, 116, 120B etc, they can seek clarification directly from the petitioner through his e-mail with an instruction to provide copy of the FIR within 72 hours from the date of receiving of that communication in which petitioner clearly told that in the matter of Lalita Kumari v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2014) 2 SCC 1, the Constitution Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court has held as under:
“120. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we hold:
120.1 The registration of FIR is mandatory under Section 154 of the Code, if the information discloses commission of a cognizable offence and no preliminary inquiry is permissible in such a situation.”
Despite this, Respondent No. 5-SHO, PS Hazratganj Kotwali and Mr. Dhruv Kant Thakur, IPS (Police Commissioner, Lucknow) knowingly disobeyed directions under law with intention to cause injury for their wrongful gain. In addition they have also acted in collaboration in concealing the crime which has been committed under the guidance of Mr.Hitesh Chand Awasthi (IPS), the then DGP, UP and Mr. Avanish Kumar Awasthi (IAS), Addl Chief Secretary (Home) respondent nos.8 and 9 respectively.
True copies of letter for issuance of necessary direction for registration of FIR dated 23.12.2020 (email) and 26.12.2020 (Speed post) addressed to the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and the Police Commissioner, Lucknow (colly) being filed herewith marked as Annexure No.11 (Colly) to this writ petition.
29. That respondent no. 9-Mr. Hitesh Chandra Awasthi (IPS Retd)-the then Director General of Police of Uttar Pradesh and Respondent no.8- Mr.Awanish Kumar Awasthi (IAS), Addl. Chief Secretary (Home) UP with the full cooperation of other respondents, since inception, for the sake of minting money from the Khanan Mafias and other criminals, are adopting the different wrongful tactics and camouflage i.e. firstly by hatching a criminal conspiracy, hand-in-gloves with the Khanan Mafias and other criminals with the intend to injury for their wrongful gain, had abetted Mr. Inderkant Tripathi (now deceased) for suicide on 8.9.2020 and in a preplanned manner falsely implicated my client-Mr. Mani Lal Patidar; secondly, my client-Mr. Mani Lal Patidar (IPS), Ex- SP has been suspended without going into the depth of the matter on 9.9.2020; thirdly immediately after suspension with malafide intention on 10.9.20 and 11.9.20 abovesaid two FIRs were registered against the petitioner’s client on the concocted grounds; fourthly, on 27.11.2020 when Mr. Mani Lal Patidar was coming to meet the petitioner personally along with his pending fees, he was abducted and illegally detained at some unknown place by the UP police authorities for ulterior motives and ultimately put under wrongful confinement at a secret place under the directions of respondents no.9&8 with the consent of Hon’ble the Chief Minister; fifthly during the unlawful detention of petitioner’s client, they also have created so many false, fabricated documents for wrongful loss of petitioner’s client and have announced fake award on 29.11.2020 of Rs.25,000/- by respondent no.10 (Mr. Arun Kumar Srivastava, SP, Mahoba) and later immediately on 6.12.2020, enhanced the amount of fake award to Rs. 50,000/- by Mr. K. Satyanarayana, IG, Chitrakoot Dham Banda, UP for production of Mr. Mani Lal Patidar dead or alive, besides lodging a fake case as absconder in PS Kabrai, Mahoba on 12.12.2020 under section 174-A IPC for the purpose of cheating with the intent to injury when petitioner’s client is under their illegal detention since 27.11.2020; sixthly for the purpose of cheating, they concealed the genuineness of the facts and misguided the Hon’ble High Court of Allahabad and its subordinate courts with the intent to cause injury to the petitioner’s client. A complete monitoring of the above said conspiracy is performed by respondents the guidance and supervision of respondent nos. 8 & 9 with ulterior motives, which fact is well within the knowledge of respondent no.2, no action has been taken/ solicited till date against any of the culprits rather a protection has been granted to their wrongful acts. All these facts has been mentioned in the Habeas Corpus Writ Petition bearing no.353/2021 titled, “Dr. Mukut Nath Verma v. State of UP & 11 Ors.”, the contents thereof may please be read as part and parcel of this petition.
30. While respondents the public servants are bound to serve the nation with deep honesty, but they are deliberately involved in unlawful and several heinous criminal activities for his wrongful gain in the interest of Khanan Mafias. Not only this, they are misusing their power for their self-benefits in different modes contrary to law i.e. they used to get the work done through their subordinate police officers to pressurise the criminals to work according to their whims and fancies and managing/promoting various illegal works for their wrongful gain and by taking bribe/gratification from the criminals and/or to work for the benefits of criminals because of which the high morale of the honest police officers is getting down. By taking gratification from criminals and well-wishers/erring police officers, they shelter crime of murder abduction/kidnapping, dacoity etc. Consequently, the crime and morale of criminals are getting high which is dangerous for every citizens of the nation. All over the U.P. State neither victims are getting the FlR/NCR lodged in easy way nor any receipt to most of the complaints is being given by the concerned police stations, rather SHO of the concerned police station harassing the victim/complainant by delaying tactics. More so, U.P. Police neither investigate fairly nor protect the victim but support/favour the accused for the wrongful gain. Sometimes, they also used abusive behaviour against the complainant to draw a fear in them, but no action is being taken against the erring police officials and the honest/innocent police officer is being harassed by drawing him accused. These officers by grabbing all media agencies into their hands or of putting fear of false allegations; by concealing real picture of the crime in the U.P. state, by advertising/flashing false news and tarnishing the image of an honest person/police officer/media person, by lodging false complaint against him and by manipulating a false FIR to save the criminals and because of these reasons, any common man/journalist/writer/professor/ teacher remains under fear for publishing, speaking and/or writing true news. Consequent to their defective working procedure adopted by them, several innocent persons have been put to severe custody, got imprisonment due to their false and fabricated allegations, fake encounters, forced to suicide etc. Because of all these reasons, the life of Inderkant Tripathi (now deceased) comes to an end and Mr. Mani Lal Patidar based on false and fabricated allegations became accused. Mr. Hitesh Chandra Awasthi and Mr.Awanish Kumar Awasthi, respondent nos. 9 and 8 respectively are so powerful that they have made several people suffer in custody, and are capable of even detaining or arranging for wrongful confinement of the victim, Mr. Mani Lal Patidar. In fact, a thorough and complete enquiry is called for against both respondent nos. 8 & 9 as many innocent people are languishing in prison because of them. They with the above said illegal activities are putting a fear and terror over the victims, it is possible either the client of the petitioner can be murdered or can be eloped at some unknown place/abroad. In view of the fact that they are under the influence of the Khanan Mafias, it can be possible that these two authorities (respondent nos.8 & 9) may have connection with the other agencies involved in terrorist activities resulting a shabby picture of the UP State.
34. That since Mr. Mani Lal Patidar is a honest and innocent police officer who took legal action against Khanan Mafias and their alliance. As there is collaboration of respondents with Khanan Mafias, so other respondents are working under pressure of them. Knowingly all respondents remain silent spectators of whole of the issue and never feel duty bound to clear cut the issue or to help Mr. Manilal Patidar.
44. That it is astonishing to note that the Petitioner has been writing and sending several representations to various authorities in the State and to the Central Government but till date the whereabouts of the victim Mr. Mani Lal Patidar has not been disclosed or brought on record by the UP Police. It is shocking to see that such a senior police officer of the UP Police has been missing/ arrested/ illegally detained but till date no action has been taken by the UP Police.”
It is also worth noting that the Bench then notes in para 15 that, “Perusal of the swearing clause as afore-quoted would reveal that the afore-quoted paragraphs of the writ petition have been sworn by the petitioner herein i.e. an advocate, on the basis of his personal knowledge. It has not been stated in the writ petition that how the petitioner being an advocate has personal knowledge of the allegations made in the afore-quoted paragraphs of the writ petition, which relates to the accused Mani Lal Patidar personally and at best may be within his (Mani Lal Patidar) knowledge. Thus, swearing of the afore-quoted paragraphs of the writ petition by the petitioner on personal knowledge is without foundation as well a conscious attempt to mislead this court.”
As it turned out, the Bench then envisages in para 16 that, “ From the facts briefly noticed above, it appears that the accused Mani Lal Patidar is absconding and against him proceedings under Section 82, Cr.P.C. has also been initiated and whose criminal misc. writ petitions have been dismissed and anticipatory bail applications have been rejected. The habeas corpus writ petition filed by the petitioner herein to produce the accused Mani Lal Patidar is stated to be pending. Under the circumstances, the present writ petition is apparently an abuse of process of law by the petitioner herein, which has stated himself to be an advocate.”
Resultantly, the Bench then holds in para 17 that, “Thus, in view of the facts and discussion noted above, the relief Nos. (I) and (II) have neither any substance nor can be granted. The Relief Nos.(III) and (IV) sought by the petitioner herein are mischievous in nature. The relief sought by the petitioner for collecting his remaining pending fees from the accused Mani Lal Patidar , can not be granted. In Improvement Trust Ropar through its Chairman vs. S. Tejinder Singh Gujral and others, 1995 Supp. (4) SCC 577 (para-3), Hon’ble Supreme Court held that “We find that the High Court had allowed the writ petition filed by the respondent-advocate for the recovery of his professional fees from the petitioner. No writ petition can lie for recovery of an amount under a contract. The High Court was clearly wrong in entertaining and allowing the petition. There is no separate law for the advocates.”
While citing the relevant case law, the Bench then states in para 18 that, “In Dhanraj Singh Choudhry vs. Nathulal Vishwakarma, (2012) 1 SCC 741 (Para-25), Hon’ble Supreme Court observed as under:
“Any compromise with the law’s nobility as a profession is bound to affect the faith of the people in the rule of law and, therefore, unprofessional conduct by an advocate has to be viewed seriously. A person practising law has an obligation to maintain probity and high standard of professional ethics and morality.””
While continuing in the same vein, the Bench then holds in para 19 that, “In O.P. Sharma vs. High Court of P&H, (2011) 6 SCC 86 (para-38), Hon’ble Supreme court held as under:
“An advocate’s duty is as important as that of a Judge. Advocates have a large responsibility towards the society. A client’s relationship with his/her advocate is underlined by utmost trust. An advocate is expected to act with utmost sincerity and respect. In all professional functions, an advocate should be diligent and his conduct should also be diligent and should conform to the requirements of the law by which an advocate plays a vital role in the preservation of society and justice system. An advocate is under an obligation to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the public justice system is enabled to function at its full potential. Any violation of the principles of professional ethics by an advocate is unfortunate and unacceptable. Ignoring even a minor violation/misconduct militates against the fundamental foundation of the public justice system.””
Furthermore, the Bench then enunciates in para 20 that, “The principles laid down in the case of Dhanraj Singh Choudhry and O.P. Sharma (supra) as afore-quoted, have been quoted with approval by Hon’ble Supreme Court in Chandra Prakash Tyagi vs. Benarsi Das (dead) by legal representatives and others, (2015) 8 SCC 506.”
Quite damningly, the Bench then holds in para 21 that, “From perusal of the present writ petition, it appears that the petitioner herein has been continuously filing various applications at different forums and has also filed the present writ petition. But he has not disclosed the source of finance of the litigation for his alleged client, i.e. the accused Mani Lal Patidar. Non-disclosure of this fact itself indicates some hidden motive in filing the present writ petition.”
As we see, the Bench then also holds in para 22 that, “The Relief Nos. (V), (VI) and (VII) as sought in the present writ petition are beyond scope of criminal misc. writ petition inasmuch as departmental proceeding, suspension and pension of an employee are all service law matters.”
Adding more to it, the Bench then observes in para 23 that, “Neither the employee, i.e. the accused nor any of his family members have filed the present writ petition. There is nothing on record to show that the accused employee Mani Lal Patidar or any of his family members has authorised the petitioner herein to file the present writ petition for the relief sought. Thus, the petitioner herein has unauthorisedly filed the present writ petition.”
Adding further more, the Bench then clearly holds in para 24 that, “The Relief No.(VIII) sought by the petitioner, under the facts and circumstances of the case as discussed above; is an abuse of process of court and such reliefs without there being any material on record, cannot be granted.”
What’s more, the Bench points out in para 25 that, “From perusal of the aforequoted paragraphs of the writ petition, it appears that serious allegations have been made by the petitioner against the respondent authorities but neither any supporting document has been annexed with the writ petition nor any material is available on record to believe the contention. Although the petitioner in the affidavit filed in support of the writ petition, has sworn the afore-quoted paragraphs on his personal knowledge, but has completely failed to disclose his source of knowledge as well as material, if any, to support the allegations.”
Needless to say, the Bench then remarks in para 26 that, “It is also obvious from reading of afore-quoted paragraphs of the writ petition that only vague allegations of mala fide have been levelled and that too without any basis. The mala fide can be made out with specific object of damaging the interest of the petitioner and such action is helping some one which results in damage to the party alleging mala fides. It would be seen that there is no allegation whatsoever in the pleadings in respect of the petitioner. An inference of mala fides has been sought to be drawn in the course of vague pleading that the respondent authorities are allegedly helping the mining mafias.”
Most damningly and most significantly, the Bench then holds in para 27 that, “Serious allegations have been made against the respondents, which appear to be mala fide in order to malign the image of the State -respondents. The petitioner is expected to disclose true and correct facts before making any allegation against respondents. The petitioner in person, being a practising lawyer, is also expected to verify the same, himself and then levelled such allegations against the respondents. It is also expected that source of such information as well as material, if any, must be brought on record and in absence thereof, the allegations made in the writ petition cannot be accepted.”
As an inevitable fallout, the Bench then perhaps feel compelled to hold in para 28 that, “For all the reasons afore-stated and the law laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court in the judgments referred above, the writ petition is dismissed with cost of Rs.05 lakhs (five lakhs), which shall be deposited by the petitioner with the High Court Legal Services Committee, High Court Allahabad, within one month from today.”
Finally, the Bench then holds in para 29 that, “A copy of this order along with copy of the writ petition be also sent by the Registrar General of this Court to the Bar Council of Delhi for taking appropriate action against the petitioner – Dr. Mukut Nath Verma, Advocate, (Advocate Roll No.D/1062/2014) in accordance with law and without being influenced by any of the observations made in the body of this order.”
In conclusion, this is certainly a very big setback for Dr Mukut Nath Verma but it is not the end of the road for him. He still has the viable option to challenge it in the Apex Court! But, yes, it is something which even he himself may not have expected. No doubt, we all those who are in the noble legal profession need to learn at the earliest from this latest judgment that we should never ever level any serious allegation unless we have concrete proof to back it up and should be able to substantially produce the source and the material from which we level such serious allegation!