1. This is an application under the Legal Practitioners Act for the legal practitioner in question to show cause why he should not be dealt with by the Court. The facts of this case have been put before us very fairly indeed by the learned Advocate-General as the President of the Vakils' Association and very frankly by Mr. Grant on behalf of the Pleader in question; and, although very sinister charges indeed were made against the Pleader, on examination the sinister aspect of the case disappears but there remain these facts. The Pleader having, in his professional capacity, had the custody of certain documents put them into Court. He was acting at that time for the father of the present petitioner and his brother, and, on the death of the father, he continued to act for a time for the two brothers. Those documents not being required for the purpose of the then pending suit, the practitioner applied to and got them back from the Court. They apparently were taken by his clerk and kept among other documents belonging to this practitioner by his clerk, and we are prepared to accept as a fact that he forgot that he had ever got them back and had not any knowledge of where they were. At a later time, the brothers having quarrelled, he was asked by one of them for the documents. He applied to the Court; believing that they were still with the Court, for those documents, and then discovered that, at any rate as far as most of them were concerned and in particular the document which the practitioner was particularly anxious to get hold of, they had been returned to him. He discovered after search that those documents were in fact among the papers in the custody of his clerk. With that knowledge he wrote two letters stating in effect that he had not got the documents and concealing the fact that the Court had recently told him that he had got the documents and that he had discovered them in the hands of his clerk. Mr. Grant, appearing for him, used what is appropriate language. He says that those documents contained lies. A professional man in this profession must know perfectly well that lying to his client is unprofessional conduct. We have no doubt in this case he did so be cause he thought that if he spoke the truth he would got into considerable trouble with, at any rate, one of the two brothers, probably with both, and he realised, especially as one document was still missing, that the sinister suggestions which at that time apparently were already being made, that he had from the start acted fraudulently in concealing his custody of these documents, would seem to have been with Some foundation and would probably be urged against him with the result that he would lose his clients, persons obviously of a very litigious nature and no doubt very valuable clients.
2. There can be no justification at all for not speaking the truth. The fact that a man is going to be injured professionally if he does speak the truth is no valid excuse for telling a lie; but, it is an attitude which is not uncommon and which is not of the most serious character. It is very different from the case of a professional man telling a lie fraudulently in the sense of wishing to assist his client in deceiving the Court or even wishing to assist his client in a claim that he is making against another. It is done recklessly, foolishly and wrongly, apparently partly from fear and partly in his own interest.
3. Having said so much, we think there is little else to be said or done in the matter. We think it is a case where but for the circumstances to which I am about to refer we should order the practitioner to pay the costs of the petitioner in the matter, but in this case, the petitioner has acted throughout certainly vindictively. He has put in a petition to the Court and before the District Judge in the enquiry which was directed to be held by the District Judge a sinister view of the whole matter and made charges of a very serious fraud, ziz., that the petitioner had originally got these documents from the Court in order to help not his own client but the brother, and had concealed the documents with the object of hurting his client in his suit and assisting the brother in any litigation that there might be between the two brothers. Those charges have wholly failed and, therefore, we do not think it right in this case to order the practitioner to pay the costs. While we must express our disapproval of the conduct of the practitioner in this matter we think that he has already been sufficiently punished by standing under the shadow of those much more serious charges, and by the expense that he has consequently been put to in having to appear in these proceedings.