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Amarchand Vs. Mr. X. Advocate - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCivil
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCase No. 2 of 1949
Judge
Reported inAIR1951Raj110
ActsLegal Practitioners Act, 1879 - Sections 13
AppellantAmarchand
RespondentMr. X. Advocate
Appellant Advocate Sumerdan, Asst. Govt. Adv. and; Chandmal, Adv.
Respondent Advocate Utsavlal, Adv.
Cases ReferredEmperor v. K. C. B.
Excerpt:
- - 931/- & also for the possession of a well. (2) whether the non-appct failed to inform the appct of the progress of the case. it is not in the best interest of the legal profession as a whole or any member of it that there should be any lax or loose standard of professional conduct......ct & the version put forward by the appct is that out of the total sum of rs. 75/- agreed to be paid on account of remuneration to the resp, rs. 50/- was to be paid at the time of the institution of the suit & rs. 25/- after the pronouncement of the judgment. he paid another sum of rs. 45/- to the resp later on, making a total of rs. 120/- & thus leaving the sum of rs. 70/- with him for the purpose of affixing a court-fee stamp on the plaint & incurring other miscellaneous expenses. it was alleged that the plaint was presented on 22-11-1947 on deficient court-fee stamp & that although a number of dates had been fixed in the case, the resp wrote to him on 21-1-1948 that no hearing had been fixed & that the appct would be informed when the date was fixed. it is urged in the petn that.....
Judgment:

Nawalkishore, C.J.

1. This is an appln by Amarchand for action being taken against Mr. X, Advocate of Sojat under Section 13, Legal Practitioners Act. The petn is based on a number of grounds, most of which are common to the parties, & these may be stated at once before coming to the points on which the parties are at divergence. The appct Amar Chand contacted the resp for the purpose of instituting a suit for the recovery of Rs. 931/- & also for the possession of a well. On 31-7-1947 (Sawan Vad 11 St. 2003) he appears to have delivered to him the relevant papers in connection with this case & also executed a power of attorney in favour of the resp. In this power of attorney, which is Ex. P-3 on the record, the sum of Rs. 75/- is mentioned as having been settled on account of remuneration. The word ^^vnk^^ struck out and the word ^^ra^^ written on the top of it showing thereby that nothing whatsoever had been paid out of the remuneration settled between the parties. The next sentence which specifically deals with the amount remaining unpaid was allowed to remain blank. It appears that the plaint was drafted the next day out it remained in the office of the resp till 22-11-1947 when it was presented in Ct. It may be stated that on a suit for the recovery of Rs. 931/- a total court-fee stamp of Rs. 59/4 was required but the plaint was presented on a stamp of Rs. 9/4 only. The result was that no further proceedings could be taken till the deficient court-fee stamp was made up. The Ct adjourned the case to 11-12-1947, then to 19-12-1947 & again to 9-1-1948 & continuously thereafter till 14-7-1948 giving opportunity after opportunity to the resp to make up deficiency in court-fee stamp. From the order-sheets, it appears that the resp himself took all these adjournments for that specific purpose. Ultimately, on 14-7-1948 when the Ct found that inspite of so many opportunities having been afforded to the resp, court-fee stamp was not being made up, it had no alternative but to reject the plaint & ordered accordingly. Before proceeding further, it may be stated that on 21-1-1948, the resp wrote a letter to the appct, Ex. P-l on the record, stating as under:

^^is'kh vHkhrd vkbZ ugha vkus ij bkyk ns nhtkosxh vkSj leu Hkh tYnh tkjh djk fn;s tkosaxs lks eqkys jgks A**

At the end of the letter there is a note to the following effect:

^^:i;k 25 cdk;k gSa lks Hkst nsoks A**

This letter shows that in spite of the fact that from the 22-11-1947 till 14-7-1948 which covers a period of nearly eight months, there had been a large number of adjournments & every time dates had been fixed in the case, the resp chose to write to the appet that no dates whatsoever had been fixed & that he would inform him as soon as this was done. After the rejection of the plaint on 14-7-1948, the appct came to Sojat & found that the resp was out. The same day he got a petn written by Amarlal, Petn-writer to the effect that the suit had been dismissed on account of the deficiency in court- fee not having been made up & that he was now putting in the necessary court-fee stamp. According to the appct, this petn was torn to pieces by him when on being read out it was found that the petn writer had written something in it which threw all the blame for not making up the deficiency in court-fee stamp upon him. On 17-8-1948, the present appln was filed in this Ct & the version put forward by the appct is that out of the total sum of Rs. 75/- agreed to be paid on account of remuneration to the resp, Rs. 50/- was to be paid at the time of the institution of the suit & Rs. 25/- after the pronouncement of the judgment. He paid another sum of Rs. 45/- to the resp later on, making a total of Rs. 120/- & thus leaving the sum of Rs. 70/- with him for the purpose of affixing a court-fee stamp on the plaint & incurring other miscellaneous expenses. It was alleged that the plaint was presented on 22-11-1947 on deficient court-fee stamp & that although a number of dates had been fixed in the case, the resp wrote to him on 21-1-1948 that no hearing had been fixed & that the appct would be informed when the date was fixed. It is urged in the petn that since the resp did not file the court-fee stamp inspite of a payment having been made to him & also gave him false information, he was guilty of grossly improper conduct, & action should be taken against him. The resp admitted most of the facts which have been stated already. He, however, pleaded that out of the sum of Rs. 120/- paid to him, it was agreed that he will retain Rs. 75/- on account of his remuneration & that the balance of Rs. 25/- which would be required for the purpose of court-fee stamp & miscellaneous expense would be sent to him later on. Since the required court-fee in the case was Rs. 59/4 & a stamp could not be purchased for a lesser denomination than that of Rs. 50/-, he presented the plaint on a court-fee stamp of Rs. 9/4 only. In this way he explained that he could not make use of the balance of Rs. 25/- because until another sum of Rs. 25/- was added it, a stamp of the value of Rs. 50/- could not be purchased. This appln was sent to the learned Civil Judge, Jodhpur, for enquiry & report. The learned Civil Judge found that there were only two points for determination in the case, that is: (1) Whether it was settled between the appct & the non-appct that the amount of Rs. 50/- towards remuneration would be paid to the non-appct before the institution of the suit & Rs. 25/- after the case is decided. (2) Whether the non-appct failed to inform the appct of the progress of the case.

2. After going into the evidence, the learned Civil Judge found that the total amount of Rs. 75/- on account of remuneration had been agreed to be paid & was paid before the institution of the suit as stated by the resp & that this left a certain balance due from the appct on account of deficiency in court-fee stamp. He never sent this amount to the resp & accordingly, the latter could not be said to be guilty of not filing the full court-fees. As regards, the second point, the learned Civil Judge came to the conclusion that the statement in Ex. P-1,. the letter dated 21-1-1948 that no hearing had been fixed in the case was wrong as there had already been three hearings & that this portion of the letter must have been written without trying to elicit true facts & betray negligence on the part of the resp. The learned Civil Judge absolved him, however, on the ground that although the appct was informed that the sum of Rs. 25/- was outstanding against him, he did not remit this amount & accordingly the resp was not to blame.

3. After hearing the learned counsel for the parties & giving a careful consideration to the facts & circumstances of this case, we are wholly unable to agree with the report submitted by the learned Civil Judge. The crux of the question in the case is whether the resp had been paid full amount on account of court-fee stamp leviable on the plaint. It is conceded that the total amount paid was Rs. 120. According to the resp, he retained out of this the sum of Rs. 75/- on account of his remuneration & that the balance of Rs. 45/- was still deficient by the sum of Rs. 25/- as to total amount required for payment of court-fees & other expenses was Rs. 70/-. Taking the resp at his word & holding for a moment that the position was as stated by him, the question is whether in the circumstances, he could still be said to be guilty of a conduct which was against the professional morality. The papers remained in his hands from 31-7-1947 till 22-11-1947 on which date the plaint was actually presented in Ct. This covers a period of nearly four months. There was absolutely nothing on the record to show that the resp made any effort to contact the client & demand from him the balance of Rs. 25/- which was still owing on account of deficiency in court-fees. The learned counsel for the resp urged that when the client was fully aware that he still had to remit a certain sum of money on account of deficiency in court-fee, it was not at all necessary for the counsel to write to him & ask him to send the money in order that the plaint may be presented in Ct. The position as stated by the learned counsel is not correct & is against the resp's own conduct. The important question is whether after the suit had been instituted on a court-fee stamp of Rs. 9/4 only, it was the duty of the counsel or not when it continued to be adjourned over & over again for a matter of nearly eight months for deficiency in court-fee stamp being made up, to inform his client of the true state of things & also of the fact that in case the balance of the amount was not remitted without further delay, he would not be responsible if the plaint was rejected by the Ct. The record does not show that the resp wrote to his client to the above effect at any time while the suit was pending. His case undoubtedly is that he had been writing letters to the appct informing him of these facts & he even produced his Munshi Harakhraj to support him on this matter but we are unable to believe this version. It appears that the resp wrote only one letter to the appct & that is Ex. P-l dated 21-1-1948 & in this letter he not only suppressed facts but also conveyed false information. He wrote to him saying that date had not been fixed in the case & that as soon as a date was fixed, he would be duly informed about it. This was on the face of it false. At least three dates had been fixed & every time the resp took an adjournment to enable him to make up the deficiency in court-fee stamp. Where was the necessity of writing any letter at all to the appct if the resp's position, as taken up by his learned counsel in this Ct, was that since the appct knew that he had not paid the full amount on account of court-fee stamp, it was his duty to remit this amount & the resp need not do anything at all? Any way, when the resp actually came to write a letter to him, one would expect that he would inform him frankly & bluntly that the case was not able to proceed any further because the deficiency in court-fee stamp had not been made up & that he should send the balance to enable him to make it up as quickly as possible. This fact was completely suppressed from the latter. There is absolutely no reference to the adjournments granted in the case on account of deficiency in court-fee stamp & there is a false statement to the effect that no dates whatsoever had been fixed. At the end of this letter there is a note to the effect that he should send the balance of Rs. 25/-. Taking the resp at his word, as has been done throughout this case, if this amount was due on account of deficiency in court-fee stamp, why did he not mention it broadly & in a straightforward manner in this letter? These various facts lead us to believe that after all, the version put forward by the resp is not correct. As a matter of fact, he had not been paid his full remuneration & the full amount of Rs. 70/- had been delivered to him on account of court-fee stamp, & the balance of Rs. 25/- was due on account of remuneration. It was for this reason that the resp did not & could not write to the client the facts relating to the development of the case. If he had received the full amount on account of court-fees, how could he inform him that the case was being adjourned because there was a deficiency in court-fee stamp. We are firmly of the view that this was on account of the fact that this sum was the balance due out of the remuneration & not out of the amount required for the stamp on the plaint. The learned Civil Judge has not made a proper approach to the points involved in the case. The question was not whether the resp was guilty of not filing the full court-fee stamp. The point was whether full amount for this purpose had been paid to him & if so, was he guilty of professional misconduct for withholding a part of it. On the second question in the case, the learned Civil Judge found that the resp was negligent but absolved him on the ground that the sum of Rs. 25/- was outstanding from the appct & since he had not remitted it, the resp was not to blame. Here again, he completely missed the point. Leaving everything else aside, there was the broad fact staring in the face that the resp had suppressed the truth & indulged in a deliberate falsification. The question is whether for a conduct of this kind, any action could be taken against the resp or not. The learned Civil Judge, however, left this question alone. The relations between the members of the Bar & the clients rest upon a very high standard of mutual confidence & trust & it is expected that after a member of the Bar has been engaged on behalf of a particular client, he will always keep him fully informed of the progress of the case & post him with absolutely true information about it. As was held in 'Shyam Sunder v. S. a pleader', AIR (31) 1944 Oudh 236: (46 CrLJ 108), members of the legal profession are expected to maintain not only a high standard of professional morality & ethics but they are also expected as men of education & culture & as members of an honourable profession to act in an honest, straightforward & upright manner. Any deviation from these elementary principles when brought to the notice of Cts must be severely dealt with. The conduct of a pleader, who makes palpably false statements to wriggle but of an inconvenient situation, cannot out be regarded as reprehensible & is guilty of improper conduct involving moral turpitude. In 'In re an Advocate', AIR (22) 1935 Cal 484: (36 CrLJ 1130 SB), it was held that if a professional man does not tell the truth in connection with a matter which he has undertaken to carry through on behalf of a client, that is conduct which might easily be said to involve moral delinquency. It is not in the best interest of the legal profession as a whole or any member of it that there should be any lax or loose standard of professional conduct. Henderson J. held in this case that negligence accompanied by suppression of truth or by deliberate misrepresentation would be misconduct. Similar view prevailed in 'Emperor v. K. C. B. a pleader', AIR (22) 1935 Cal 547: (36 CrLJ 1271). There are a number of other authorities on this point but it is not necessary to multiply them. A certain amount of evidence has been produced during the course of enquiry on either side & we have chosen not to refer to it as it appears to us, the question involved in this case is clinched on the facts mentioned above as they emerge from Ex. P-l & other circumstances surrounding the case. If reference to any evidence is necessary, we might advert to the statement of Kanhaiyalal produced by the resp himself from which it is clear that when the appct handed over the sum of Rs. 75/- to him for payment to the resp, he also informed him that a certain sum of money still remained due on account of his remuneration. Thus, it is clear that the sum of Rs. 120/- paid to him included the sum of Rs. 70/- on account of full court-fee stamp. Granting for a moment that It did not, he had spent only Rs. 9/4 on this stamp & sitll had a balance of Rs. 25/- in his hands. What was it which prevented him from affixing a stamp of Rs. 34/- on the plaint? If he had done that as urged by the learned counsel for the appct, it may have been possible for him at a later stage to save the plaint from being rejected in its entirety as he could then, with the consent of the client, amend the plaint & restrict his prayer for a decree to the amount covered by the court-fee stamp of Rs. 34/- only. The contention of the learned counsel for the resp is that according to a certain unwritten rule or practice where a court-fee stamp of Rs. 50/- is required, it is not open to the litigant or his counsel to purchase a stamp of a lesser denomination. The learned counsel has not been able to support this contention by reference to anything on the record & we are wholly unaware of such a rule or practice. In the circumstances, there is no escape from the conclusion that the resp is guilty of professional misconduct & we hold accordingly. The resp is hereby suspended from practice for a period of two months & further directed to deposit his licence with the Registrar forthwith.

Bharadwaj, J.

4. I agree.


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