1. This is a reference made to us by the District Judge, Jalgaon under Section 26, Bombay Pleaders Act. The Pleader concerned was charged with having carried on various businesses while he was practising as a pleader and the business with regard to which charges were framed were (i) a commission agency shop run in the name of 'Ramchandra Mundade Pleader', (ii) a grocery and provision store run in the name of 'Mundade Home Service Ltd.,' and (iii) a cement business run In the name of 'Jaihind Trading Company'.
The learned District Judge with regard to the commission agency business held that the plead er carried on the business from 1946 to 1949. The case of the pleader was that he had carried on the business merely for the purpose of winding up, that being a business of his father. The District Judge came to the conclusion that it was not carried on merely for the purpose of winding up.
With regard to the Mundade Home Service Ltd., this business was being carried on in the residential premises of the pleader and although the case of the pleader was that this shop had been started by his son, the learned District Judge rightly came to the conclusion that as the son was a minor and as the shop was situated in the place where the pleader resided, that charge was proved.
With regard to the Jaihind Trading Company, the District Judge also held that that charge was also established especially as the pleader did not step into the witness-box to challenge the allegations made by the petitioner. It was then alleged that in the course of these businesses the pleader had done various acts which were highly Improper and the learned District Judge's conclusion was that although the allegations caused suspicion against the conduct of the pleader, the charges -have not been satisfactorily established.
2. With respect to the learned Judge, he himself has found that with regard to the Mundade Home Service it was run as a limited concern without being registered. Surely it is Improper for a lawyer to contravene the provisions of the law & to do something which is flagrantly opposed to the clear provisions of the law.
There is also another circumstance which does not redound to the credit of the pleader and that is that he got into financial difficulties because the Co-operative Society which was financing his business suddenly withdrew and then he filed a suit for a declaration that ft sale deed executed by him on 30-9-1949 was null and void and he told this story in most curious terms in his plaint. He said that he was coerced into executing the sale deed because his creditors swooped down upon him and made it impossible for him to resist the demand.
For a lawyer to allege seriously and solemnly that he has been coerced into executing a solemn document is not very seemly. Mr. Madbhavi has argued that at the date when the pleader was enrolled there was no rule which made it incumbent upon him to give any undertaking about not carrying on any business. He has also argued that under Section 26 the conduct of the pleader cannot be considered to be in law improper conduct.
Without deciding the Question of law raised by Mr. Madbhavi, in our opinion, it is clearly improper on the part of a lawyer to carry on business, while he is practising as a lawyer. The profession of law is looked upon by the public as an honourable profession which requires the highest standards and the highest traditions from those who practise it and any conduct which derogates from that high standard must be looked upon with disfavour by this Court.
There are two Courts which have taken the view that carrying on business is not a proper thing for a lawyer to do while he is practising his profession as a lawyer.
In S. A. Pleader, Raghunathpur: In the matter of : AIR1936Pat1 (A) a Special Bench of Chief Justice Courtney-Terrell, Mr. Justice Dhavle and Mr. Justice Agarwala took the view that a pleader cannot run two businesses at the same time, such a practice being in the highest degree injurious to the interest of the legal profession and to the interest of the public, and, therefore, where a pleader was found to be carrying on the business of an insurance agent without giving up the legal profession, it was held that he was guilty of professional misconduct.
Even in - 'Ram Sarup v. Tika Ram Vakil' AIR 1919 All 13 (B) on which Mr. Madbhavi has relied, while holding that a pleader who was carrying on the business of His father was not guilty of professional misconduct, the learned Judges said that they thought, however, that it was not proper for him (pleader) to have entered into the alleged transactions while he was carrying on the business of a vakil, although those transactions were only isolated ones. Sir Norman Macleod sitting with Mr. Justice Heaton and Mr. Justice Kajiji in 'In re: Jivanlal Varajrao Desai' AIR 1920 Born 168 (C) observes:
':Lawyers' position, training and practice give them immense influence with the public, and their example must necessarily have a much greater effect whether for good or for evil, than the example of those who do not occupy this privileged position. It is not necessary in order for us to be able to exercise our jurisdiction that any offence should have been committed, nor is it necessary that what the respondents have done should have subjected them to anything like general infamy or imputation of bad character'.
We are most anxious that pleaders should always continue to occupy the privileged position which they have so far occupied in our country and they can only occupy the privileged position if they maintain the highest code not only of morality but of propriety.
3. We think the proper order to make on this application would be that we look upon the conduct of the pleader carrying on business as improper conduct. Mr. Madbhavi has given an undertaking on behalf of his client that he will not carry on any business in future without intimating the fact to the High Court and getting the permission of the High Court to carry on the business. Mr. Madbhavi also says that the pleader had discontinued doing any business and at present he is not carrying on any other business except practising the profession of law. There will be no order as to costs.
4. Order accordingly.