1. The petitioner is the owner of two lands bearing Survey Numbers 82 and 89/A of Harapanahalli village. Respondent No. 2 applied to the Land Tribunal constituted under Section 48 of the Karanataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act') as amended by Act 1 of 1974 requesting it to declare that he was the tenant in possession of the said lands and that he was entitled to be registered as an occupant. Pursuant to the said application, notice was issued by the Tribunal to the petitioner under Section 48-A (2) of the Act to show cause as to why action should not be taken on the application made by respondent No. 2.
2. At the hearing of the cm before the Tribunal one Mr. B. P., an Advocate by profession filed a power-of-attorney executed by the petitioner before the Tribunal and requested the tribunal to permit him to art as agent of the petitioner, in that case. The Tribunal declined to entertain the power-of attorney filed by Mr. B. P. and to permit him to conduct the case as the agent of the petitioner. It was of the opinion that subsection (8) of S. 48 of the Act prohibited a legal practitioner from appearing before the Tribunal and conducting cases on behalf of the litigants even though, they may be his friends, armed with powers-of-attorney executed by them.
3. In these writ petition, the petitioner has questioned the correctness of the order of the Tribunal and sought for the issue of a direction to the Tribunal to permit Mr. & P. to conduct the case before it on his behalf in the capacity of an agent.
4. Sub-section (8) of S. 48 of the Act provides that no legal practitioner shall be allowed to appear in any proceedings before the Tribunal. The question that arises for consideration is whether a legal practitioner is prohibited from acting as an agent of a litigant before the Tribunal.
5. A similar question arose for consideration before the High Court of Bombay, (1954-56 Bom LR 917) in a case arising under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act. Sub-section (4) of S. 36 of that Act provided that in any proceeding before a Tribunal, a party to a dispute might be represented by a legal practitioner with the consent of the other parties to the proceeding. The Management of Alembic Chemical Works Company Ltd., which was a party to an Industrial dispute before the Industrial Tribunal, Bombay, applied to the Tribunal to allow a legal practitioner, who was one of its Directors to appear on its behalf and to conduct the case. The Tribunal declined to accede to the request made by the Management as it was of the opinion that although the right of a company to appear through a director was never in question, the legal practitioner who had been appointed a director a couple of days before the bearing merely to circumvent the provisions of sub-section (4) of S. 36 of the Industrial Disputes Act could not be allowed to appear. That order of the Industrial Tribunal was questioned by the Management before the High Court of Bombay in the above case. The High Court rejected the contention of the Management- In doing so, Tendolkar, J. observed as follows:
'Therefore, it appears to me that if an officer of any Trade Union who is referred to sub-section 36 (1) as qualified to represent a workman or an officer of an association of employers who is qualified to represent an employer under sub-section (2) or an officer or director of a corporation through when a corporation is entitled to be represented by the procedure governing the Tribunal happens to be a legal practitioner, that fact by itself cannot disqualify him from appearing before the Tribunal. But this pre-supposes that such an Officer is a regular officer either of the Trade Union or the Association in the case of an officer of a corporation a regular officer of the corporation, and in the case of a director that he is a bona fide director not elected a director merely for the purpose of enabling him to appear in a pending proceeding before a Tribunal. In other words, if a legal practitioner is transformed into an artificer of a registered Trade Union or of an association of employers or of a corporation or is appointed a director of a corporation, in order to get over the disability imposed on a legal practitioner representing a party, then such a person shall not b allowed to appear and represent a party. But short of an intention to circumvent the provisions of Section 36 (4), if a legal practitioner is ordinarily a regular officer either of a trade union or an association of employers referred to in Section 36 (1) and (2) or of a corporation or if he is a director bona fide appointed as a director, I see nothing in sub-section. (4) to prevent his appearing on behalf of the party merely by reason of the fact that , he happens to be a legal practitioner.'
6. It is clear from the observations of the Bombay High Court extracted above that the Tribunal should determine whether the party who has executed a power-of-attorney in favour of a legal practitioner is trying to circumvent the legal bar imposed by sub-section (8) of S. 48 or not in a case like this. The question whether a party has tried to circumvent the law or not in such a case is a question of fact and it is not liable to be interfered with in a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. In this case the Tribunal does not find that there was any genuine need to execute the power-of attorney.
7. The petitioner also cannot contend that there has been any discrimination against him or that a fundamental right of his counsel is infringed by the provisions of sub-see. (8) of S. 48 of the Act. When the constitutional validity of Section 36 (4) of the Industrial Disputes Act which imposed more or less a similar bar came up for consideration before. a Division Bench of the High Court of Madras consisting of Rajamannar, C. J. and Venkatarama Aiyar, J. in A. N. Rangaswamy v. Industrial Tribunal, : AIR1954Mad553 , it was observed as follows:
'The courts as we have them, are governed by certain rules in the matter of procedure, reception of evidence and so forth which have their roots in age-long traditions. The tribunals are comparatively recent institutions which owe their existence to statutes and the principles by which they are governed are not identical with those which courts observe. The matters which they have got to decide may be purely administrative in which case, it is conceded, there is no question of appearance by lawyers. Even when the dispute is of a character which involves the exercise of judicial functions, the tribunals would be more m the position of arbitral bodies, not bound by strict rules of procedure or of evidence. With reference to such tribunals, the legislature which establishes them has also felt itself free to lay down the procedure which they should follow in the hearing of the disputes and it may generally be stated that subject to rules of natural justice they enjoy in the matter of procedure and trial a freedom which the courts do not possess. Thus, there are essential differences between courts and tribunals and the enactment of a special rule with reference to tribunals is, therefore, not open to attack as discriminatory under Art. 14.'
8. The right of an Advocate to appear before any Court or Tribunal is not an unqualified right. It is subject to the laws governing the Court or Tribunal before which he appears. When the Legislature by an express provision debars the appearance of a legal practitioner before a Tribunal. an advocate cannot be permitted to contend that he is entitled to practice before such Tribunal only by reason of the fact that he is enrolled as an Advocate.
9. There is one other reason which persuades me to hold that the petitioner cannot be permitted to conduct the case before the Tribunal through Mr. 9. P. in whose favour he has executed a power-of-attorney. An agreement under which an agent is appointed by a principal is also governed by, Section 23 of the Contract Act which declares that an agreement whose object is of such a nature, that, if permitted, it would defeat the provisions of any law, as void. The power-of-attorney executed by the petitioner in favour of Mr. B. P. which has the effect of defeating the effect of sub-section (8) of S. 48 of the Act, has to be declared as void and that Mr. B. P. cannot on the basis of the said power-of-attorney act -for the petitioner before the Tribunal.
10. Sri V. S. Gunjal, learned counsel for the petitioner, however, contended that the petitioner could engage Mr. B. P. as his agent in view of what was provided in R. 40 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Rules Sub-1 rule (1) of Rule 40 no doubt says that every appeal, petition, application or other document presented to any authority shall be presented by the party making such appeal or petition or application, or other document or by his recognized agent, his pleader or advocate, in the office during the office hours or be sent by registered post addressed to the authority to whom it is presented by designation. But there is no substance in this contention as it is quite obvious that R. 40 cannot override sub-section (8) of Section 48 of the Art.
11. Members of legal profession occupy a very high status and this carries with it an equally high responsibility. The elevated position of the Bar is conveyed by the expression 'La noblesse de la robe' the aristocracy of the gown. It necessarily implies that members of that noble profession should bear the obligations which go with it. They should not do anything which either stultifies or compromises that high position.
12. The privileges and the scope of authority of a legal practitioner are much wider than the authority of an agent appointed under a power-of-attorney. He owes his duty not merely to his principal but also to the court as well as to the public. He cannot in the words of Dr. Johnson, 'tell what he knows to be a lie : He is not to produce what he knows to be a false deed. A lawyer is to do for his client all that his client might fairly do for himself if he could.' The expression 'fairly' used in the above quotation fully sums up the nature of duty of a lawyer and virtually forms the basis of the body of rules and practices of the bar, which are compendiously called as professional Ethics. On account of his special position, he cannot be equated with an agent, who functions under a power-of -attorney given by a principal and who is not governed by any Code of conduct. By volunteering to be a mere agent of a litigant a lawyer brings himself down in the estimation of all concerned.
13. Having regard to what is stated above, I feel that the appearance of a legal practitioner on behalf of a litigant in the capacity of an agent appointed under a power-of-attorney may not conform to the high standards of the profession. This, however, is a matter for self-regulation.
14. The Tribunal was right in refusing the permission to Mr. B. P. to appear as a power-of-attorney holder on behalf of the petitioner. This writ petition is dismissed.
15. Petition dismissed.