P.S. Shah. J.
1. The District Judge, Poona has submitted a report under Section 26 of the Bombay Pleader Act, 1920, to take disciplinary action against one Shri M who has been enrolled as a pleader under the Bombay Pleaders Act, 1920.
2. The facts are not in dispute. In the year 1969, Shri M was working as a senior Police Prosecutor in Ratnagiri District. The allegation against him was that he demanded an amount of Rs. 100/- as a bribe for getting a couple of cases adjourned and for trying to get acquittal of the accused in those cases. A Special Case No. 4 of 1971 was filed against him and he was tried by the; Special Judge, Kolhapur. The learned Judge found him guilty and convicted him under Section 161 of the Penal Code and Section 5(1)(d) read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act and sentenced him to various terms of imprisonment which were ordered to run concurrently. In the result, he was ordered to suffer rigorous imprisonment for one year. Besides, he was also sentenced to pay a fine of Rs, 5,000/-. The Criminal Appeal No. 1303 of 1971 preferred by him in this Court came to be dismissed subject to the modification that the line was reduced to Rs. 3,000/-. The pleader M has undergone the substantive sentence and also paid the fine. By this letter dated August 26, 1975, the Director, Anti-Corruption, submitted a report to the District Judge to take disciplinary action against him in view of the aforesaid conviction. On a notice being issued, Shri M who was then practising in Poona court, submitted his written statement admitting all the allegations about his conviction and sentence. He, however, pleaded for mercy, having regard to the fact that he has already undergone a severe punishment for his crime and that he had a large family of 7-8 persons to maintain. He pleaded that in the event of his losing his Sanad, his family would starve as he has no other means of maintenance except the legal profession. The learned District Judge has, therefore, submitted a report under Section 26 of the Act for taking appropriate disciplinary action for the improper conduct on the part of Shri M.
3. When the matter came up for hearing before us on August 28, 1978, we felt that in view of the commencement of the Advocates Act, 1961, the disciplinary jurisdiction could be exercised by the Bar Council and not by this Court. We, therefore, issued notice to the Bar Council. Mr. S.H. Gurusahani who appeared on behalf of the Bar Council today submitted that Shri M can only be dealt with by this Court under the Bombay Pleaders Act, 1920, and the Bar Council would have no jurisdiction. He drew our attention to the various provisions of the Advocates Act in support of his contention. It must be noticed that Chapter IV of the Advocates Act, has not yet come into operation, while Chapter V has been brought into force, with effect from September 1, 1963. Sub-clause (b) of Sub-section (4) of Section 50 of the Advocates Act, provides that on the date on which Chapter V comes into force, Sections 24 to 27 of the Bombay Pleaders Act, 1920, shall stand repealed. Now, in the present case, the provisions of Sections 24 and 25 of the Bombay Pleaders Act are being invoked against Shri M and normally, this Court would not have jurisdiction in view of the repeal of the said provisions. However, the said provisions of the Bombay Pleaders Act are saved to the extent mentioned in Section 55 of the Advocates Act, in so far as pleaders and vakils practising as such immediately before the date on which Chapter IV came into force, and notwithstanding the repeal of the said provisions of the Pleaders Act, such pleader or vakil continued to enjoy the same rights as respects practice in any court or revenue office or before any authority or person and be subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the same authority which he enjoyed, or as the case may be, to which he was subject immediately before the said date and accordingly the relevant provisions of the Acts or law aforesaid shall have effect in relation to such person as if they had not been repealed. It would thus appear that Shri M, who has been admittedly practising as a pleader since before Chapter IV of the Advocates Act came into force, will be subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the High Court.
4. Mr. Sawant, the learned Government Pleader, appearing for Shri M did not dispute that this Court will have the jurisdiction to act under the Pleaders Act, 1920. He, however, submitted that Shri M has been sufficiently punished for his lapses. He has already undergone sentence of rigorous imprisonment for one year and has paid a very heavy fine of Rs. 3,000. He submitted that Shri M who is aged about 60 years has a large family to maintain and his family has to depend merely on his small earnings out of his legal profession which he is carrying on in Poona. He submitted that having regard to the stigma which he has been already carrying on account of his conviction, he is unable to get any practice worth the name and if a serious view is taken, and if he loses his right to practice, his family would be ruined. He relied on the provisions of Section 25 of the Bombay Pleaders Act and contended that this is a fit case where the ends of justice would be met by reprimanding M or imposing some fine. Having regard to the serious lapses on the part of the lawyer, and the conviction imposed on him for an offence which clearly was derogatory to the office which he held, we do not think that this is a fit case where a fine should be imposed or he should be merely reprimanded. In our view, ends of justice would be met if the lawyer is suspended from practice for a period of six months.
5. We, therefore, direct that Shri M be suspended from practice as a pleader for a period of six months with immediate effect from today. In the circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.