1. This is a rule which was issued by the Court calling upon the leader, Brahmananda Dutta, to show cause why he should not be suspended from practice or why such other order should not be made in the matter as to this Court might seam fit and proper.
2. It appears that the Pleader was the Vice-Chairman of the Golaghat Local Board and that one Bhikola bought the right to collect the revenue fixed by the Government in respect of two cattle-pounds and it was alleged that Bhikola had paid a sum of Rs. 66-10 8 to the Pleader on account of this matter, that the Pleader retained this sum for about seven weeks and that then be paid it into the treasury of the Local Board.
3. He was charged with an offence under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with the offence of criminal breach of trust by a public servant and was convicted by the Magistrate of Golaghat and sentenced to imprisonment till the rising of the Court and to a fine of Rs. 500; and it was directed that, in default of payment, a further period of six months' rigorous imprisonment would be imposed. The fine of Rs. 500 has been paid.
4. Section 12 of the Legal Practitioners' Act provides: 'The High Court may suspend or dismiss any Pleader or Mukhtar holding a certificate issued under Section 7 who is convicted of any criminal offence implying a defect of character which unfits him to be a Pleader or Mukhtar as the case may be.'
5. There was no appeal from the conviction and the learned Counsel who has appeared for the Pleader has rightly said that in this Court he cannot contest the correctness of the conviction.
6. Therefore, this case must be approached on the basis that the Pleader was convicted under the above mentioned section of an offence which cannot be said to be a trivial one.
7. On the other hand, the Magistrate who dealt with the case thought it right to deal with the case leniently and he pointed out in his judgment that the misappropriation, although he found it to be dishonest misappropriation, was only intended to be temporary. He further said that it could not have been an attempt at permanent misappropriation.
8. It is, however, to be remembered that the misappropriation was not discovered until a new Chairman was appointed and he began to make investigation into the affairs of the Local Board.
9. My learned brother and I are inclined to regard this case as a temporary aberration on the part of the Pleader and I do not think that his conviction in this case implies a defect of character which would unfit him permanently to be a Pleader or which would justify this Court in making an order of dismissal.
10. The result, therefore, is that we think that a sentence of suspension will meet the case. We direct that the Pleader be suspended for six months from the 1st of January, 1924.
11. I agree.