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Supreme Court of India
P.D. Gupta vs Ram Murti & Anr on 8 July, 1997
Author: D Wadhwa
Bench: S.C. Agrawal, D.P. Wadhwa
           PETITIONER:
P.D. GUPTA

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
RAM MURTI & ANR.

DATE OF JUDGMENT:	08/07/1997

BENCH:
S.C. AGRAWAL, D.P. WADHWA




ACT:



HEADNOTE:



JUDGMENT:

J U D G M E N T
THE 8TH DAY OF JULY, 1997
Present:

Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.C. Agrawal
Hon’ble Mr. Justice D.P. Wadhwa
Yogesh K. Jain, Sr. Adv., Pravir K. Jian, M.A. Khan, B.K.
Sharma, and Rajiv Dutta, Addvs. with him for the appellant
In-person for the Respondent in No.1
The following Judgment of the court was delivered :
D.P. WADHWA, J.

The appellant is an advocate practising in Delhi. He
ha filed this appeal under section 38 of the Advocates Act,
1961 ( in short the Act,) against order dated May 4, 1996
of the Disciplinary Committee of Bar council of India
holding him guilty of misconduct and suspending him from
practice for a period of one Year. This order by the Bar
council of India was passed as the Disciplinary committed
of the Bar council of Delhi could not dispose of the
complaint received by it with in a period of one year and
proceedings had thus been transferred to the Bar council of
India under section 36 B of the Act. Section 36 B enjoins
upon the Disciplinary committee of state Bar council to
dispose of the complaint receive by it under section 35 of
the Act expeditiously and in any case to conclude the
proceedings within one case to conclude the proceedings
within one year from the date of the receipt of the
complaint or the date of initiation of the proceedings if at
the instance of the state Bar Council. Under Section 35 of
the Act where on the receipt of a complaint or otherwise
the state bar council has reason to believe that any
advocate on it s role has been guilty of professional or
other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to
its Disciplinary Committee.

One Srikishan Dass died on January 5, 1980 leaving
behind extensive properties, both movable and immovable. One
Vidya wati claiming to be the sister and the only legal heir
of Srikishan Dass filed a petition under Section 276 of the
Indian Succession Act in the court of District Judge, Delhi
for grant of probate/letters of administration to the estate
of deceased Srikishan Dass. This she filed in February,
1980. It is not that there was any will. The complainant
Ram Murti (who is now respondent before us ) and tow other
persons also laid claim to the properties of Srikishan Dass
claiming themselves to be his heirs and propounding three
different wills. They also filed separate proceeding under
section 276 of the Indian succession Act before the District
Judge, Delhi. Since there was disoute regarding inheritance
to the properties of srikishan Dass, Vidya Wati also filed
a civil suit in the Delhi High Court for declaration and
injunction against various defendants numbering 23,
including the complainant Ram Murti who is defendant No.

21. This suit was filed on February, 10 1982. Vidya wati had
prayed for a decree of injunction against the defendants
restraining them from trespassing into property bearing No.
4852 Harbans Singh street, 24 Daryaganj, New Delhi or from
interfering with or disturbing peaceful possession and
enjoyment of immovable properties detailed in Schedule-A to
the plaint. She also sought a declaration that she was the
absolute owner of the properties mentioned therein in the
schedule. It is not necessary for us to detail the
properties shown in schedule-A except to note two
properties at 24 Daryaganj, New Delhi bearing No. 4852 and
4852-A. It is stated that this suit is still pending in
the Delhi High court and all the proceedings under section
276 of the Indian Succession Act filed by various persons
relating to the estate of Srikishan Dass have also been
transferred from the court of District Judge. Delhi to the
High court and are being tried alongwith the suit filed by
Vidya wati also filed various other proceedings respecting
the properties left by deceased Srikishan Dass against
occupants or otherwise. P.D. Gupta, advocate who is
appellant before us had been her counsel throughout in all
these proceedings. The complaint alleged against him is that
though he knew that there was doubt cast on the right of
Vidya Wati inheriting the properties of Srikishan Dass on
account of pendency of various proceedings and further that
the complainant and others had alleged that she was in fact
an imposter and her claim to be sister of Srikishan Dass was
false yet P.D. Gupta purchase ground floor of property
bearing No. 4858-A 24 Daryaganj from Vidya Wati by sale-
deed dated December 30, 1982. The complainant also alleged
that Vidya Wati had been describing herself either as the
real sister, step sister or even halfblood sister of
Srikishan Dass which fact was well known to P.D. Gupta, her
counsel.

It is not for us to go into the merits or demerits of
the controversy raised by the parties in various
proceedings pending in the courts and still awaiting
adjudication, the grievance of the complainant is as to how
an advocate could purchase property from his client which
property is the subject matter of dispute between the
parties in a court of law. During the course of hearing of
this appealing was also brought to our notice that second
floor of the property bearing No. 4858-A, 24 Daryaganj was
purchased by Suresh Kumar Gupta son-in-low of the advocate
P.D. Gupta Sola the property purchased by him in November,
1987 for a consideration of Rs. 3,40,000/- in December,
1982. It is pointed out that the facts relating to
purchase of different portions of property No. 4858-A, 24
Daryagnaj and subsequent sale by P.D. Gupta in buying the
property from Vidya Wati in the circumstances aforesaid who
had been describing herself some time as half blood sister,
real sister or even step-sister of Srikishan Dass. The
explanation given by P.D. Gupta is that though Vidya Wati
was step-sister of srikishan Dass but the later always
treated her like her real sister and that is how vidya Wati
also at times described herself as real sister.

There are some more facts which could also be noted.
Vidya Wati herself has died and she is stated to be survived
by ger only daughter maya Devi who is also now dead. before
her death Vidya Wati allegedly executed a will in favour of
her grandson Anand Prakash bansal who is stated to be the
son of maya Devi bequeathing all her properties to him.
Vidya Wati died on October 26, 1991 and Maya Devi on April
13, 1992, It is stated that P.P. Bansal has been acting as
General Attorney of vidya Wati and instructing P.D. Gupta.

In support of his case P.D. Gupta filed affidavit of
Anand Prakash Bansal wherein it is claimed that saledeeds
executed by Vidya Wati in favour of P.D. Gupta and his son-
in low Suresh Kumar Gupta were without any pressure from
any one and were by free will of vidya Wati. P.D. Gupta
has claimed that complaint filed by Ram Murti is motivated
and he himself had no title to the properties of srikishan
Dass being no relation of his and the will propounded by
him had been found to be forged as opined by the CFSL\CBI
laboratory. The fact that the will propounded by the court.
In the affidavit filed by P.D. Gupta in answer to the
complaint of Ram Murti he has stated that “Lala Srikishan
Dass left behind his sister Smt. Vidya Wati who succeeded
to the estate on death of Lala Srikishan Dass and took over
the entire movable and immovable estate. Thereafter the
complainant and two other persons propounded will of Lala
Srikishan Dass”. This statement of P.D. Gupta has been
verified by him as true and correct to his knowledge. It
does appear to us to be rather odd for a lawyer to verify
such facts to his knowledge. It is claimed that when
Srikishan Dass died, subject immovable property was plot
bearing No.4858-A, 24 Daryaganj measuring 1500 sq. feet and
the same was got mutated in the name of Vidya Wati in the
records of the Municipal corporation of Delhi and then she
got plan sanctioned from the Municipal corporation of
Delhi for construction of the house on this plot and which
she did construct and got completion certificate on August
28, 1981. It is peculiar, rather astounding, how could
Vidya Wati get the property of Srikishan Dass mutated in
her name when she is yet to be granted letters of
administration or declaration to her title.

We examined the two sale-deeds transferring this
property, one executed in favour of P.D. Gupta and other in
favour of his son-in-law Suresh Kumar Gupta and we
complainant and the concerned parties.”

In the sale deed which is dated December 30, 1982
executed in favour of P.D. Gupta recitals show that the
agreement to sale was entered into on September 3, 1980.
The completion certificate of the building was obtained on
August 28, 1981 Payment of Rs. 1,50000/- made before
execution of the sale deed on various dates from 3.8.80 to
20.11.1981 by means of cheques except one payment of Rs.
10.000/- made by cash on September 3, 1980. balance amount
of consideration of Rs. 30,000/- was paid at the time of
registration of the sale deed there is no mention of any
civil suit respecting this property pending in the High
Court. Rather it is stated that vendor had constructed
various floors and had assured/represented to the vendee
that she had a good and marketable title to the property and
the same was free form all sorts of liens, charges,
encumbrances or others like burdens, and in case any defect
in the title of the vendor was later on proved, the vendor
undertook to compensate the vendee for all losses, damages
and claims, which might be caused to him in this regard. In
the other sale deed dated December 2, 1982 executed in
favour of son-in-law of P.D. Guta. Which was filed during
course of hearing course of hearing of this appeal, it is
mentioned that after obtaining completion certificate on
August 28,1981 Vidya Wati let out the second floor of the
property comprising five rooms, kitchen, two bathrooms on
monthly rent of rupees five hundred to Suraj Bhan Gupta.
Recitals to this deed show that in order to retch better
price Vidya wati agreed to sell the property being second
floor which according to her was not giving good return
for consideration of Rs. 1,75,000/- to Suresh Kumar Gupta.
Now this Suresh Kumar Gupta son-in-law of P.D. Gupta is
no other person than the son of Suraj Bhan Gupta, the
tenant. There is no mention of any agreement to sell in this
sale-deed but what we find is that first payment of Rs.
20,000/- towards consideration was made on November 5,
1981, second payment of Rs. 25,000/- on February 20, 1982
and third of Rs. 30,000/- on April 26, 1982. Balance
Payment has been made at the time of execution of the sale
deed on December 2, 1982.

Bar Council of India has taken note of the following
facts:

1. P.D. Gupta claims to know vidya wati since 1980 when
Srikishan Dass was alive. He knew Vidya wati closely and yet
contradictory stands were taken by Vidya wati when she
varyingly described herself as half-blood sister, real
sister or step-sister of Srikishan Dass. These contradictory
stands in fact cast doubt ion the very ekistence of Vidya
wati herself. This also created doubt about bona fides of
P.D. Gupta who seemed to be a family lawyer of vidya wati.

2. P.D. Gupta knew that the property purchased by him
from Vidya wati was subject matter of litigation and
title of vidya wati to that property was in doubt.

3. Hupe property situated in Daryaganj Ganj was purchased
by P.D. Gupta for a mere sum of Rs. 1,80,000/- in 1982.

4. The agreement for sale of property was entered into as
for back on September 3,1980 and P.D. Gupta had advancing
money Vidya Wati from time to time which went to show that
as per version of P.D. Gupta knew Vidya Wati so closely how
Vidya Wati could take contradictory stands vis-a-vis her
relationship with Srikishan Dass.

Bar Council of India was thus of view that conduct
of P.D. Gupta in circumstance s was unbecoming of
professional ethics and conduct.

Bar Council of India also observed :

” It is acknowledged fact that a
lawyer conducting the case of his
client has commanding status and
can expert influence of his client.

As a member of the Bar it is our
common knowledge that lawyers
have lawyers have started
contracting with the clients and
enter into baroains that in case
of success he will shore the
result. Number of instanses of
Motor Accident Claims. No doubt
there is no bar for instances to
purchase property but on account
of common prudence specially law
knowing person will never prefer to
purchase the property, the title of
which is under doubt.”

Finally it said:

” But for the purpose of the
present complaint, having regard to
all the facts and circumstances of
the case, the committee is of the
opinion that the conduct of the
respondent is patently unbecoming
of a lawyer and against
professional ethics. Consequently,
we feel that as an exemplary
punishment, Shri P.D. Gupta
should be suspended form practice
for a period of one year so that
other erring lawyers should learn
a lesson and refrain themselves
form indulging in such practice.”

The question which rises for consideration is:
In view of the aforementioned facts is P.D. Gupta
guilty of professional or other misconduct and if so is the
punishment awarded to him disproportionate to the
professional or other misconduct of which he has been
found guilty?

Mr. Y.K. Jain, learned counsel appearing for the
appellant P.D. Gupta submitted that if in a case like
this it held that a lawyer was guilty of professional
misconduct particularly on complaint filed by an interested
person like Ram Murti no lawyer would be able to conduct
henceforth the case of his client fearlessly. Mr. jain
said that the aggrieved person. if any, in this case would
have been either Vidya Wati. Her daughter maya Devi or her
grand-son Anand Prakash Bansal and neither of them had
complained. it was also submitted that though the
property was purchased by P.D. Gupta in late 1982 the
complaint by Ram Murti was filed only on December 16 ,1922
Mr. Jain explained that as to how Vidya Wati had been
varyingly described in various litigations was on account of
instruction form her or her Attorney and it was no fault of
P.D. Gupta on that account. Then it was submitted that no
specific charges had been framed in the disciplinary
proceedings which had caused prejudice to P.D. Gupta in the
conduct of his defence. lastly, it was contended that
P.D. Gupta was no longer concerned with the property as
he had sold away the same.

There appears to be no substance in the substance of
mr. Jain. P.D. Gupta was fully aware of the allegations
he was to meet . It was not a complicated charge. He has
been sufficiently long in practice. The arguments that a
charge had not been formulated appears to be more out of
the discontentment of P.D. Gupta in being unable to meet
the allegation . Now, P.D. Gupta says that he has washed
off his hands of the property and thus he is not guilty of
any misconduct. That is not the issue. It is his conduct
in buying the property, the subject matter of litigation
between the parties, from his client on which he could
exercise undue influence especially when there was a doubt
cast on his client’s title to the property. Had P.D. Gupta
sold the property back to Vidya Wati and got the sale deed
in his favour cancelled something could have been said in
his favour. But that is not so. He sold the property to a
third person, made property to a third person, made profit
and created more complications in the pending suit. P.D.
Gupta purchased the properties which were subject matter
of dispute for himself and also for his son-in-law at
almost throw away prices and thus he himself became a party
to the litigation . conduct of P.D. Gupta cannot be said
to be above board. It is not material that Vidya Wati or
anyone claiming through her has not complained against him.
We are concerned with the professional conduct of P.D.
Gupta as a lawyer conducting the case for his client. a
lawyer owes duty to be fair not only to his client but to
the court as well as to the opposite party in the conduct of
the case. Administration of Justice is stream which has to
be dept pure and clean. It has to be kept unpolluted.
Administration of Justice is not something which concerns
the Bench only. It concerns the Bar as well, Bar is the
principal ground for recruiting Judges. No one should be
able to raise a finger about the conduct of a lawyer. While
conducting the case he functions as officer of the court.
Here, P.D. Gupta in buying the property as in effect
subverted the process of justice. His action has raised
serious questions about his fairness in the conduct of the
trial touching his professional conduct of the trial
touching his professional conduct as an advocate. By his
action he has brought the process of administration of
justice in disrepute.

Bar council of India and state Bar councils are
statutory bodies under the Act. These bodies performs
varying functions under the Act and the rules framed their
under. Bar council of India has laid standards of
professional conduct for the members. code of conduct in
the circumstances can never be exhaustive. Bar council of
India and state Bar councils are representative bodies of
the Advocates on their rolls and are charged with
responsibility of maintaining discipline amongst members
and punish those who go astray from the path of rectitude
set out for them. In the present case the Bar council of
India, through its disciolinary committee, has considered
all the relevant circumstances and has come to the
conclusion that P.D. Gupta, advocate is guilty of
misconduct and we see no reason to take a different view.
We also find no ground to interfere with the punishment
awarded to P.D. Gupta in the circumstances of the case.

The charge of professional or other misconduct by an
advocate is a serious matter and has to be considered and
disposed of by the Disciplinary committee of a state Bar
council expeditiously and with in period of one year. We
are unable to comprehend as to why the Disciplinary
Committee of the Delhi Bar council could not dispose of the
matter within the prescribed time frame and it was left
the apex body to deal with it.

The appeal is dismissed. No order as to costs.


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