In a recent, remarkable and righteous decision, the Supreme Court of India in Harmanbhai Umedbhai Patel vs Bindu Kumar Mohanlal Shah in Civil Appeal No. 1009/2013 in exercise of its civil appellate jurisdiction on July 15, 2020 upheld an order passed by the Bar Council of India (BCI) dismissing a complaint alleging professional misconduct by a lawyer. There was no professional misconduct found on the part of the lawyer. How then could the BCI have entertained a complaint against lawyer alleging professional misconduct?
To start with, a 3 Judge Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justice L Nageswara Rao, Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice S Ravindra Bhat set the ball rolling in the opening para of this noteworthy judgment wherein it is observed that, “The appellant filed a suit for declaration of Revenue Survey No. 590 at village Ankodia as gaucher land on 16.8.2001. Thereafter, on 23.12.2003, the defendant in the suit executed a sale deed of the land in Revenue Survey No.590 at Village Ankodia in favour of Prajapati Brothers.
While elaborating further, it is then pointed out in the next para that, “The appellant filed another suit challenging the sale deed dated 23.12.2003. A public notice was issued by the appellant on 13.3.2010 in which it was mentioned that the appellant has taken steps for declaring the land in Revenue Survey No. 590 at Village Ankodia as gaucher land. It was mentioned in the public notice that the purchase of the land in Revenue Survey No. 590 at Village Ankodia had commenced construction illegally.”
While continuing in the same vein, it is then pointed in the next para that, “The respondent, who was the advocate appearing for the defendant in the suit issued a public notice on 17.3.2010 stating that Mr. Vithalbhai Babarbhai Patel was declared as the owner of the land in Revenue Survey No. 590 at Village Ankodia.”
As it turned out, what then unfolded is stated quite upfront in this coming para which points out that, “A complaint was filed by the appellant against the respondent alleging professional misconduct. The complaint was transferred to the Bar Council of India. The Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India by an order dated 16.11.2012 dismissed the complaint. This appeal has been preferred against the order dated 16.11.2012 passed by the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India.”
Needless to say, it is then brought out in this para that, “Mr. Manoj Swarup, learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant has submitted that the respondent issued a public notice which has misled the public about the nature of title of the property. He urged that an advocate has not only a duty to his client but to the Court and society as well. He relied upon the judgments of this Court reported in 2001 (2) SCC 221 titled D.P. Chadha versus Triyugi Narain Mishra & Ors. and 2016 (6) SCC 1 titled State of Punjab and Anr. Versus Brijeshwar Singh Chahal and Anr. to submit that the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India committed an error in dismissing the complaint filed by the appellant.”
Most crucially, it is then rightly held by the Apex Court Bench in this noteworthy case after considering all the facts before it and after hearing both the sides that, “We have perused the public notice dated 17.3.2010 issued by the respondent. We are in agreement with the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India that the appellant failed to prove any professional misconduct on the part of the respondent. Though the respondent-advocate did not mention the name of his client in the public notice, the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India was right in holding that the respondent did not commit any moral turpitude amounting to any professional misconduct.” Absolutely right! Who can deny or dispute this? Certainly no one.
What followed next is quite ostensible and this palpable conclusion is put forth by the Bench in these words: “In view of the aforesaid, we uphold the order dated 16.11.2012 passed by the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India. The appeal is dismissed.”
Not stopping here, it is then further held in the last para that, “The appellant deposited Rs. 20,000/- towards costs imposed by the High Court. The amount with interest shall be released to the respondent. Pending application(s), if any, shall stand disposed of.”
In conclusion, it is definitely good to learn that the Apex Court Bench of 3 Judges as stated above have rightly come to the rational, reasonable and right conclusion that the order dated 16.11.2012 passed by the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India is upheld and the appeal is dismissed. It is also good to note that the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India too went into the nitty gritty of this notable case and rightly arrived at the logical conclusion that the respondent advocate did not commit any moral turpitude amounting to professional misconduct! There can be no denying or disputing it!