1. The respondent is an advocate practising in this Court. He was charged with professional misconduct. Five charges were framed against him and these were investigated by a Tribunal constituted under the Indian Bar Councils Act. The Tribunal has reported favourably to the respondent on all the charges. We accept the report except so far as it concerns the second charge. We consider that in this case the charge has been substantiated.
2. The complainant is the brother of one Manickammal who instituted in 1932 a suit on the Original Side of this Court in which she asked for a decree for maintenance as a Hindu widow. She sued as a pauper. She claimed that she was entitled to maintenance at the rate of Rs. 500 per mensem and to a sum of Rs. 52,000 as arrears of the allowance. Through her brother she engaged various advocates to conduct her suit, but subsequently withdrew her instructions. In July, 1933, the complainant approached the respondent with a view to the respondent acting for his sister. The respondent agreed and the complainant alleges that it was arranged that the respondent's remuneration was to be 14 per cent, of the sum which might be decreed in the suit, including costs. The second charge is based on this agreement. The actual charge reads:
That you having been engaged in C.S. No. 168 of 1932 on the file of the High Court for the plaintiff accepted a share of the profits of litigation for your professional remuneration, namely, 14 per cent, of the sum that may be decreed in the suit including costs.
3. The Tribunal thought that no definite agreement had been entered into, but that after discussion the matter was left at large. An examination of the correspondence which passed between the complainant and the respondent shows that the conclusion of the Tribunal cannot be supported.
4. The complainant in the course of his evidence said:
I went to the respondent. This was in May, or June, 1933. That was the very first time I saw the respondent. The respondent called for the papers which I gave him, having got them from Mr. Sankaranarayana. A week later, he said he would take up the case, provided I agree to pay him 20 per cent, of the amount that may be realised in the suit. I bargained with him and ultimately reduced the demand to 14 per cent, of the moneys. I told him the suit must be finished within a month or two. He agreed to do so. He promised to pay Rs. 100 for the maintenance of the plaintiff till the suit was disposed of within the time mentioned above. He agreed to engage a senior. My sister signed a letter confirming the arrangement referred to above and I passed that letter to the respondent.
5. This letter is dated 26th July, 1933, and the copy of it (Ex. A) reads as follows:
Regarding C.S. No. 168 of 1932 I request you to kindly conduct the suit and accept my vakalat with a competent senior and I hereby agree to pay you 14 per cent, of the amount I get in the said suit for arrears of past maintenance.
6. The respondent says that he has no recollection of having received this letter, but there can be no doubt that he did receive it. On the 6th November, 1933, the plaintiff wrote a letter to the respondent saying that he had only paid her Rs. 23 for her maintenance whereas he had agreed to help her to the extent of Rs. 100. The letter proceeds:
Further as per your terms mentioned in my agreement letter taken by you about your fees, you have not till now engaged any senior counsel to conduct the suit and so I am in a fix how you are going to finish the case shortly as per your frequent promises.
7. In the concluding paragraph of this letter there is a further reference to the letter of the 26th July, 1933.
8. On the 19lh January, 1934, the plaintiff wrote to the respondent a letter in which she states:
You took an agreement from me to pay you 14 per cent, from the amount that may be decreed in my favour and you undertook to (1) to meet all the expenses in the case, (2) to engage a senior either Mr. S. Duraiswamy Iyer or Mr. K.S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar and to pay their fees, and (3) to pay me a sum of Rs. 100 for my food expenses and to finish off the Case withiha month from the reopening of the Court after summer vacation.
9. This letter was shown to the respondent but he handed it back to the plaintiff saying that he would fulfil his agreement.
10. It is abundantly clear that the respondent did finance the litigation to the extent of at least Rs. 300 and advanced various Other sums to the complainant and his sister. On the 14th March, 1934, he took a promissory note from the complainant and his sister for Rs. 750 which included the Rs. 300 I have just referred to. On the same date the complainant's sister signed a letter in which she authorised the respondent to take the Rs. 750 out of the amount which might be decreed in her suit.' The letter adds:
I and my brother are liable to pay you these amounts only, after obtaining decree against the defendants and not before. I further agree with my full consent and knowledge to collect the taxed costs that may be ordered in the suit and pay the Government stamp duty for the plaint and all other Court expenses, etc. and take the balance yourself.
11. This really amounted to a new agreement. Instead of the respondent having 14 per cent, of the proceeds of the suit he was to be paid his advances out of the moneys recovered under the decree and to have for his services the balance of the taxed costs after meeting Court charges. But here again he was not to receive anything unless the suit was successful.
12. There are other letters which support the charge, but it is not necessary to refer to them. Sufficient has been said to make it clear that the respondent did enter into an agreement by which he was to be paid 14 percent, of whatever was recovered in the suit but later agreed to be remunerated on the basis of the taxed costs which might be recovered from the other side and the payment out of the decretal amount of what he had advanced. In both the cases the agreement was 'No cure, no pay'. The advocate was to receive nothing unless the suit was successful.
13. For an advocate to enter into an agreement of the nature of that embodied in Ex. A or of that embodied in the letter of the 14th March, 1934 (Ex. J-1) amounts to professional misconduct, and the Court is bound to take serious notice of it. To allow conduct of this nature to pass without punishment would only lead to the encouragement of agreements of this nature. The Court must take steps to prevent advocates speculating in litigation, and that is what the respondent has done. A great deal has been said of lack of bona fides on the part of the complainant and it has been suggested that the complaint filed was in the nature of blackmail. We are not concerned here with the conduct of the complainant. We are concerned with the conduct of the respondent and there is abundant evidence to show that he has been guilty of professional misconduct. It is said that as the result of his connection with this litigation he has lost a large sum of money. We are told that the amount which he is out of pocket is over Rs. 4,00Q. This is of course punishment in itself but we consider that it is not sufficient. We consider that the conduct of the respondent has been such that he should be suspended from practice for three months from this date. We would add that the fact that the punishment inflicted by the Court is limited to suspension for three months does not mean that it will be so limited in another case. Agreements of this nature cannot be tolerated and in future the Court will not take such a lenient view.