1. This is a reference under Section 14 of the Legal Practitioners Act., in the matter of Akhoy Narain Maiti, a muktiar of the Court of the District Judge of Midnapur, ordinarily practising in the Court of the Munsif of Contai, who was called upon by the District Judge to show cause why he should not be reported to this Court for having been guilty of conduct unbecoming a legal practitioner, in that (to use the language of the report) 'being karta of a joint family and a Muktiar of the Court, he has misused his position by repeatedly and flagrantly harassing the members of the family, setting up false claims and entering upon false defences,' as found in certain judicial records which were referred to in the report of the learned District Judge and which have been mentioned to us here.
2. Three litigations have been specifically referred to, namely, Suit No. 955 of 1907, the decision in which was affirmed on appeal on the 20th February 1908; Suit No. 16 of 1908, the decision in which was affirmed in Appeal No. 456 of 1908, on the 27th March 1908, and Suit No. 886 of 1909 (instituted on the 4th February 1910), the judgment in which was affirmed in Appeal No. 123 of 1910, on the 13th July 1910.
3. It has been found in these litigations that the Muktiar in question had made defences which were deliberately false, that is to say, that he had entered into defences which he knew were false. It was also found that there had been collusion between him and third parties with a view to injure his opponents in these litigations and that these acts had been done for the purpose of defrauding his opponents, who are other members of the same family.
4. We have read the judgment both of the Courts of first instance and of the appeal Courts and from them we find that these are the findings which the lower Court arrived at with regard to the Muktiar in Question. The learned Pleader who has appeared on his behalf in this Court has not sought to justify the conduct of his client. But he has submitted that it is not such as calls for the action of the Court under Sections 13 and 14 of the Legal Practitioners Act. The short question before us is, whether entering into deliberately false defences with, as it is found, the intention to defraud others of their just claims, is or is not a ground for action under these sections. I think that it is, and it would be impossible to pass over a matter of this kind with a mere censure (as, it has been suggested, would meet the necessities of this case) without encouraging further conduct of the kind and lowering the standard of good character of Legal Practitioners, which it is the object of the Legal Practitioners Act to secure. I would, therefore, suspend the Muktiar Akhoy Narain Maiti for a period of three months.
5. I agree. I desire to add that the comparative mildness of the punishment, which we are now inflicting, seems to me to be justified only because the standard of conduct to be expected of Legal Practitioners in this country ought not, perhaps, to be raised too suddenly or too violently. Undoubtedly, before the decision of the Full Bench in Le Mesurierr v. Wajid Hossain 29 C. 890 : 6 C.W.N. 556, the view which had prevailed, was that a Legal Practitioner could be proceeded against under the Act of 1879 for nothing but misconduct in his professional capacity. We are now, and I think very rightly, going beyond that and, as I have said, we ought not, perhaps, to press on too hurriedly.