1. In this case a High Court Vakil practising at Kumbakonam has had three charges made against him in relation to his professional conduct which have been sent up to this Court by District Judge, West Tanjore.
2. We think that the third charge, which admittedly has not been perfectly investigated, is one in which it would not be possible to say with certainty that a case of professional misconduct has been proved.
3. There remain two other charges the facts of which have been fully investigated and reported upon by the learned District Judge and as his findings of fact are not controverted, I will shortly summarise what they are. In the first case the vakil was retained by two persons one of whom was a gosha lady and the other was an old man. They were the plaintiffs in a suit in which there stood to their credit in Court a sum of Rs. 1,218, and it is not disputed that the vakil drew that money out of Court. It was of course, his duty to pay it over to his clients, and. the only answer he has is that he could not interview the gosha lady and that ho did not know that the other litigant could give him a valid discharge. It is a poor excuse, because there can be no doubt that the man in the case could have got the gosha lady, who was not gosha to him, to execute a proper discharge. But a yet easier course was open to the vakil, if he was in that position, he could have paid back that money which he had taken out, into Court and stated his reasons for doing so, and indeed, so long as the 29th of August the District Munsiff reported to the District Judge that he had in fact directed the vakil if he was bona fide embarrassed about getting a proper discharge, to put the money back into Court where it would be received. That is the first charge. It involved the loss to the clients of a substantial sum of money.
4. The next charge relates, to a much graver matter. In that case the vakil appeared on behalf of the defendant in a mortgage suit. The defendant's attitude was that although something was due, it was a great deal less than what was claimed in this suit. It is unnecessary to go into the details of that defence but it broadly came to this, that, owing to the refusal of the plaintiffs to take his money at a time when he was willing to pay it, they had inflated the claim by claiming interest throughout a long period when they could have had the money but would not take it. In those circumstances, the client's instructions to the vakil were to admit that Rs. 760 and odd was due, and he handed that sum to him with instructions to deposit it in Court. The vakil did not deposit it in Court, nor did he disclaim liability formally for the balance of the plaintiffs' claim. He tried to get adjournment after adjournment, doubtless without informing his client of it; and finally on the day of hearing, when he could obtain no further adjournment, and no longer put off the evil day, he confessed judgment for the whole amount due. The client instructed somebody else who, on the whole matter being gone into, persuaded the learned Judge that the client had been deceived, and the learned Judge very properly on review restored the case to the list for trial on the merits. But the vakil into whose conduct we are examining did not refund the money and the best he could do was to pass to the defendant a promissory note for the money with interest as from the date when it was deposited with him. His defence to that charge was that he was given, the money on condition that it should only be paid over to anybody if he could effect a final settlement with the other side for a sum not exceeding the funds in his hands. It seems quite clear from the record and from the subsequent attitude of the vakil that he made no serious attempt whatever to effect settlement with the other side. They had a vakil in charge of their case whom he does not pretend, in the evidence that he gave, that he approached in any way. But he throws out vague suggestions that he made some proposals to settle with the other side directly with the clients. It hardly conforms to the best standard of professional conduct that he should try to go behind the back of the professional man on the other side with whom he ought to have dealt However, let that pass. He now practically admits that he misappropriated the money but pleads that he gob into very serious financial trouble owing to expenses of a marriage in his family and owing to his having made himself surety for a friend who failed to discharge the principal liability and involved him in a debt of some Rs. 20,000. So he says. That he was embarrassed there can be no doubt, because the learned Judge has forwarded with the papers, and quite properly forwarded, for our consideration a largo number of judgments and execution proceedings taken against this vakil.
5. In these circumstances, what is to be done? He has bad the wisdom to abandon the untrue statements of self-exculpation which he put forward before the District Judge. If the question was merely one of the amount of punishment to be meted out to him were he standing in a criminal dock, this attitude would undoubtedly commend itself to the Court. But we have not only to consider the interests of the vakil even should we believe that his repentance is sincere and that his present intention is that he will give no cause for further complaint about his conduct, but we have to consider the public in a matter of this kind and we have also to consider the legal profession generally. How can we say that a man, who has been guilty of two such grossly dishonest and improper acts as these, can safely be entrusted with the interests and monies of future clients. We cannot. Were we to suspend him, we should mark our sense of disapproval of such conduct by a suspension so long that it would be practically equivalent to debarring him from ever efficiently practising again and also we should prevent him from doing what we hope he will endeavour to do, namely to put his affairs in order and earn his livelihood in some other walk of life. These cases are of such gravity that we feel that, in justice to the public and the profession, we can do no less in this case than order that the vakil be struck off the rolls. The sentence of the Court will be that G. Narasimhachari, High Court Vakil, be struck off the rolls of this Court.