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S. Raghbir Singh Vs. the Crown - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtPunjab and Haryana
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1950CriLJ149
AppellantS. Raghbir Singh
RespondentThe Crown
Excerpt:
.....and be says that he has found the petitioner thoroughly honest in his dealings with him and he boars a good moral character and excellent conduct, he ia a respectable citizen and highly reliable. how be has found him honest and how he knows that he bears a good moral character or has excellent conduct is not made clear in this certificate. 10. the learned advocate for the petitioner stated that for the last ten years he bad been leading an honest life and that he bad sufficiently improved himself to make him fit for reinstatement. 11. it is significant that nothing bas been tated before us which would show that the petitioner has righted the wrong which he bad inflicted on his clients amar ghand, etc. 48. there an advocate had been disbarred because being in embarrassed..........the learned advocate for the petitioner stated that for the last ten years he bad been leading an honest life and that he bad sufficiently improved himself to make him fit for reinstatement. very premises of this argument, if i may say bo, is wrong. according to what i see from the record the petitioner was oonvicted on 80th january 1941 and was given five years and nine montha which was reduced on appeal and even if he only served his sentence for one year, that would leave only five years upto 1947, and with regard to the period after the partition and the coming over of the petitioner to delhi, it may be difficult to eay one way or the other. although the it anted advocate for the petitioner was quite vehement about the improvement that has come about in the character of the.....
Judgment:

Kapur, J.

1. This is a petition for reinstatement by Baghbir Singh who had been dismissed from practice as a pleader on 7th July I9il, by a Full Bench of the Lahore High Court.

2. Baghbir Singh was, after passing his LL. B. examination, enrolled as a Pleader on 81st of July 1923 and his ordinary place of business was to be at Montgomery. The record shows that he was practicing at Amrita in 1928 and en 9th September 1928, one Bhagat Singh made a complaint against him that he had received ESection 170/ from Mm fraudulently. As in the meanwhile Raghubir Singh bad left Amritsar and started practice at Pakpattan, The matter was sent for report to the District Judge, Montgomery at Lahore. Another complaint by one Nibal Chand was also made against Kaghbir Singh charging him with cheating him (Nihal Chand) by depriving him of a certain amount of money. This matter was sent to the District Judge, Amritsar, who made a report disbelieving the statement of Baghbir Singh and held that a prima facie case was made out. The matter was also reported to the then President of the Bar Council, Mr. Jagan Nath Aggarwal, whose report was that a prima. facie case had been made out. With regard to the complaint of Bhaga Singh, Mr. Blacker, who was then the District Judge of Montgomery, made a report ihat Baghbir Singh's explanation was unsatisfac-tory. The matter was placed before Tek Chand J. and on 16th April 1931 he ordered that as the material placed was not sufficient for taking action under the Legal Practitioners Act, no further action need be taken. On 19th May 3981 one Naghar Singh made a complaint againt Raghbir Singh alleging professional misconduct of taking money from him and not prosecuting his case. On 19th April 1932, one Jamal made a complaint against Eaghbir Sirigh, saying that he had engaged him to prosecute his application for insolvency. He {Baghbir Singh) filed The application but got it dismissed in default and took no further action. On 20th January 1933 one Chandra Mani com-plained that Baghbir Singh was employing touts. The matter of Jamal wa9 settled by the President of the Bar Council, Mr. Jagan Nuth Aggarwal. Baghbir Singh returned The money to Jamal and the matter was laid at rest. In 1935 on 21st December one Chbajju Earn made a complaint to the then Chief Justice that he had brought a criminal complaint against Kaghbir Singh in the Court of the District Magistrate, Lahore, but nothing had been done. The nature of the com. plaint is not made clear in the petition to The Chief Justice.

3. After all this, on 1st September 1939 a case was instituted against Raghbir Singh Under Sections. 466, 467/109, 471/109, 209/109 and 193 of Penal Code. This case was a very serious one in which the allegations were that by forging a false pro-note and power of attorney purporting to be on behalf of his client, he got a false decree passed against his client in favour of his own brother and thereby he in conspiracy with one Mohan Singh Pujji secured Ea. 2,900 which belonged to bis client. In this case he was convicted by The learned Magistrate of forging (1) power of attorney, (2) statement of his client confessing judgment, (3) he abetted the forgery of a pronote, (4) he forged a receipt purporting to be by his client, (5) for dishonestly using a forged pronote, (6) for getting a false claim made against his own client, and (7) for fabricating false evidence. He was sentenced to aggregate sentence of five years and nine months' rigorous imprisonment. On appeal which was heard by Bhide J. the conviction was upheld on all other counts excepting Under Sections 491 and 193 and his sentence was reduced to a total of 3i years. It may be pointed out that along with him his two brothers Balraj Singh and Bhagttt Bam Singh were also convicted for similar offences and so was Mohan Singh Pujji. The matter had been reported to the High Court on its disciplinary jurisdiction side and a Full Bench consisting of the then Chief Justice Sir Douglas Young, Blacker and Sale JJ. dismissed Raghbir Singh and they particularly relied on the following passage from the judgment of Bhide J.:

Raghbir Singh is the ring leader of the conspiracy and was chiefly responsible for the omni mission of the serious offences disclosed In those trials-His conduct has been despicable. He has cheated ignorant clients, who reposed confidence in him and has also misguided his younger brothers and involved them in serious crimes. In view of all the circumstances, the aggregate sentence he will have to undergo is, if anything, lenient.

4. It may be pointed out that on 11th April 1910 one Satar Mohammad had brought a complaint against him, alleging that he had taken money from him and had taken no interest in the, case. But as Baghbir Singh had been suspended no action was taken on this complaint.

5. The petitioner applied for reinstatement on loth AuguBt 1948, and this petition is in his personal file at p. 139. This was supported by an affidavit and five letters and the affidavit by Mr. Labh Singh, Bar-at-Law and an advocate of this Court. Of the letters three are from medical practitioners, one being from Major H. P. Mehta of The Directorate General of Health Services, New Delhi. They all deposed to his good character on what basis I am unable to discover. Anyhow, the matter was placed before Mahajan J. who rejected the petition in the following words: 'I do not think he should be allowed a fresh charter to cheat people,'

6. The petitioner now comes into Court and humbly states in his petition;

6. That the charge against the petitioner in the criminal Court was that he combined with Mohan Singh Pujji Advocate and admitted a decree of Ea. 2,000 on a also pronote.

7. That this was solitary lapse from virtue on the art of the petitioner and was sufficient and eye-opener or him for his future life.

8. That the petitioner as a repentant started his life .fresh with a vow to lead a reformed life thereafter. ). That thereafter he held various jobs and also carried n the business of sale and putohase of medioines and ither things to earn his livelihood. In his business he iad dealings with a large number of people and was irusted for heavy amount of moneys by various people 3Ut he did not fall a prey to any temptation to betray the trust or confidence of those persons.

9. That the petitioner can satisfy the conscience of the Court that he can be trusted to be given plead chip license and that he is fully reformed and will not full prey to any temptation in his professional life in luture.

10. That during the period 1940 to 1948 he has con-latently behaved as a completely reformed man and lass earned a good reputation for his character In business and otherwise from the people with whom he came in contact.

11.That the Petitioner can satisfy the conscience of the Court that he can be trusied to be give pleadership license and that he is fully reformed and will not fall prey to any temptation in his professional life in future.

12. That the petitioner has suffered sufficient losa during the recent communal riots and has lost his astral property which was situated at Pind Dadan Khan, District Jhelum. Petitioner's all relatives were killed at Halkwal.

13. Now the petitioner is a refugee at Delhi,

14. That as the result of his conviction by the Court the petitioner had a mental choke and consequently contracted a very severe Insomnia and could not sleep for one year. The petitioner wag released two and half Fears before the actual expiry of The sentence on the sport of Major Taylor, I. M. S.

He also relied on a Full Bench judgment of this Court in Sri Bain Gautama, in the matter of, O. M. 33 Of 1948 ; (A.I.R. (36) 1949 B. P. 83 F. B.) whereby one S. K. Gautma of Ludhiana was granted a pleadership license. Along with this petition he has put in further 16 certificates from different persona belonging to different walks of life, including three from the members of the Bar and one from Mr. Kesho Bam, President of he Amritsar Bar Association.

7. When an applicant seeks admission to the Bar and The Court is called upon to determine his moral fitness for the position to which he aspires he is entitled to the benefit of the presumption that he is morally fitted for such position and but little evidence may be required in support of his application. When he has been so admitted and it is charged that he ia unfit to monticule to exercise the power vested in him as a pleader, the Court should guard his every right and see to it that he be not deprived of an opportunity to follow his chosen profession exceping upon clear proof of more than trivial abuses of the confidence that has been reposed in him. But when after full and fair trial he stands con-victed of such wrong doing as demonstrates his unfitness to act as a pleader-an officer in Courts of Justice-and hi3 license as such has been revoked, if he petitions for reinstatement, the onus is on him to establish by satisfactory evidence that be has undergone such moral change as to render him a fit person to enjoy the trust and confidence once forfeited. A Court should be slow to disbar but it should be even slower to reinstate. It should endeavour to make certain that it does not again put in the hands of an unworthy petitioner that almost unlimited opportunity to inflict wrongs upon society possessed by a practising practitioner. It becomes the duty of the Court upon a petition for reinstatement of one who has been disbarred to seek: such in-formation as it may lawfully receive touching upon the moral fitness of the petitioner to be admitted to practise his profession as a pleader.

8. It was held in an American case, Petition of Morrison, 45 South Dakota, 123, where another case of Ohio Circuit Court was followed that

Looking at the life and conduct of the attorney prior to the disbarment, and the reasons for the disbarment, have his life and conduct since that time been such as to satisfy the Court that if restored to the Bar he will be upright, honorable and honest in all his dealings? Wallabies restoration to the Bar be oornpatibla with a proper respect of the Court for itself and with the dignity of the profession?

9. As I have said above, he has filed in this Court a large number of certificateSection 1 have read these letters carefully in order to find therein anything that might throw some light upon the question that we are now called upon to deter, mind, that is, the present fitness of the petitioner to practise law in the Courts of this Province. In the six certificates which were filed along with the petition which was heard by Mahajan J. it was stated that the petitioner was a, thorough gentleman with congenial temperament and ha bears a good moral character. What was the basis on which these gentlemen came to this conclusion is not quite clear. But one certificate is very significant and that is by the Manager of the Punjab National Bank which says as follows:

Sardat Rughbir Singh, B. A,, L.L. B , ia well known to me. He is a respectable citizen of very high character and sound financial position.

How this Manager of the Bank came to this conclusion ia not quite clear. Mr. Kesho Bam, President of the Bar Association of Amritsar, has stated that he has known the petitioner for the last five years and that he (Raghbir Singh) has entirely reformed and possesses a good character and considering the great humiliation he has already suffered he wishes he could get back his pleader's license which will help him in settling down to a life of an honest and hardworking man, In other words, ha and others who have talked in The same strain urge that the punish, ment he has received and undergone is quite sufficient and this would deter him from future wrongdoing, forgetting that it is not fear as to the consequences of wrongdoing that qualifies one for admission to the bar, but rather an innate desire to follow the right course. There is a certificate from Mr, Madan Lai Mehta who ia Assistant Private Secretary to the Prime Minister and be says that he has found the petitioner thoroughly honest in his dealings with him and he boars a good moral character and excellent conduct, he ia a respectable citizen and highly reliable. He ia a capable gentleman and can be entrusted with any job of responsibility. It is not clear on what basis Mr. Mehta has thought fit to give this certificate to the petitioner. How be has found him honest and how he knows that he bears a good moral character or has excellent conduct is not made clear in this certificate. Others have given general certificates and have stated that in their dealings with the petitioner they found him to be highly honest. What kind of dealings there were and what were the bases on which those dealings were entered into and in what way they found him to be highly honest is again not stated. If I may say so no one has stated any fact in proof of the statement that he ia honest and is making an honest endeavor to prove himself worthy of the indulgence of this Court.

10. The learned Advocate for the petitioner stated that for the last ten years he bad been leading an honest life and that he bad sufficiently improved himself to make him fit for reinstatement. Very premises of this argument, if I may say bo, is wrong. According to what I see from the record the petitioner was oonvicted on 80th January 1941 and was given five years and nine montha which was reduced on appeal and even if he only served his sentence for one year, that would leave only five years upto 1947, and with regard to the period after the partition and the coming over of the petitioner to Delhi, it may be difficult to eay one way or the other. Although the It anted Advocate for the petitioner was quite vehement about the improvement that has come about in the character of the petitioner he did not refer as to anything beyond the certificates that I have referred to above.

11. It is significant that nothing bas been tated before us which would show that the petitioner has righted the wrong which he bad inflicted on his clients Amar Ghand, etc. He has not called our attention to any single act that would tend to prove that because of a realisation of and regret for a wrong done to one of his fellow citizens he has of his own volition acknowledged this wrong and made amends therefor.

12. The learned advocate for the petitioner drew our attention to a case reported as An advocate, in the matter of, i. l. e. (1937) Bom. 99 : A.I.R. (24) 1987 Bom. 48. There an advocate had been disbarred because being in embarrassed circumstances he misappropriated RSection 100 belonging to his client and was therefore reinstated after which it was proved on the record that ha bad led an unblemished life and he had shown his integrity. Whether in similar circumstances I would have allowed the reinstatement of a disbarred legal practitioner or not is cot necessary for me to decide in this case; but suffice it to say that the facts of that case are entirely different. In the present case, the petitioner started his record of cheating and other kinds of professional misconduct from the year 1928. It is true that no. other case was so strong as to be brought in a criminal Court; but the fact remains that since the year 1928 the petitioner had started on a career of quasi-criminality which culminated in his getting convicted for an offence which was not the result of momentary lapse, but it was a deliberate act calculatedly executed. And ha seems to be a case of a mind continuously engaged on schemes of criminality and acts which are unbecoming of a member of the Bar. By Bide J., be was described, as I have said before, as a ring-leader of a conspiracy, chiefly responsible for the commission of gross offences and had not only gone wrong himself but was also responsible for misguiding his younger brothers. A man of this type in my opinion ia totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession and in my opinion Mahajan J,, was right in saying that he should not be given a fresh charter to cheat clients. A legal practitioner, who is, after a fair trial, found guilty of an offence of cheating his client or inflicts injury on his client in the manner that the petitioner has been proved to have been done, is, in my opinion, absolutely unfitted for the profession of law and should never be allowed to return to the profession whatever his promises as to the future and. whatever be the number of recommendations bearing upon their face evidence of the worthiness of such a petitioner. Time has come when the profession should be purged of its undesirable element so that no one may be able to raise a finger of seorn towards it and no one may be able to say that it has become an asylum for cheats, forgeries perjurers and those guilty of breach of trust and offence of that nature.

13. In the result this petition fails and is dismissed with costs which is assessed at Bs. 200.

Achhru Ram, J.

14.I agree.

Khosla, J.

15. I agree.


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