1. These are three references made to this Court under Section 14 of the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879.
2. The first relates to one Jogesh Chandra Gupta, who is a Pleader practising at Jamalpur, and the charge of professional misconduct against him is that he filed a petition for the revival of a rent suit which had been dismissed, without having any authority to do so.
3. His reply to the charge is that he had been instructed to appear by a clerk of the mukhtar of the plaintiff in the case, and that he acted on the belief, induced by the representation of that person, that the vukalatnama filed in the original suit contained his name, although as a matter of fact it did not.
4. A regards the first part of this reply, it seems to me that far from being any excuse, it indicates a disregard of Section 13, Clause (a), of the Legal Practitioners Act, which provided that no practitioner shall take instructions in any case except from the party on whose behalf he is retained, or some person who is the recognised agent of such party or some servant, relative on friend authorised by the party to give such instructions.
5. Then as regards the remainder of the reply, the first remark that I would make is that is high time it should be understood that more is required that the appearance of a Pleader's name in the vakalatnama signed by a litigant, and that mere verbal acceptance is not sufficient. The practice at Jamalpur and, I believe, in many other places in the mofussil is to use printed forms of vakalatnama containing the names of most (if not all) of the members of the local bar. Now the duty of a Pleader who is prepared to accept a vakalatnama of this kind in which his name appears, is under Clause (e), Rule 45, Chapter XI, of the High Courts Civil Rules and Orders to note on it the date and the name of the person from whom it is received, with an endorsement to the effect that he is satisfied that the person from whom he received it is either the party himself, or a certificated mukthar, or one who has been authorised by the party to deliver it to him, as the case may be. Babu Jogesh Chandra Gupta would, therefore, not have been justified in appearing even had the vakalatnama contained his name, and the assurance of a person from whom he ought to have refused to receive any instruction, obviously does not extenuate the offence. It appears that he has on other occasions been guilty of similar laches and that on one he actually received adjournment costs, and I agree with the District Judge in holding that he has been guilty of unprofessional conduct.
6. But having regard to the fact that he is only 24 years of age and has been practising for hardly a year and a half, to the laxity of the practice I have referred to and to the further circumstance that this is, so far as I know, the first case of the kind that has been brought to the notice of this Court, I think it will meet the ends of justice if we record an expression of our severe displeasure and let the matter rest there.
7. The next case relates to one Sasi Mohan Dey, who is also a Pleader of Jamalpur. The charge against him is in respect of his having filed a petition for time to lodge a written statement on behalf of the defendant and subsequently presented a hazira (list of witnesses) on behalf of the plaintiff. His excuse is that he was not engaged for either party, but that in each instance he acted simply to oblige an absent Pleader at the instance of the latter's clerk.
8. A Pleader may no doubt, and not infrequently does, appear for a friend who is unable at the moment to attend Court; but in such a case he ought to let the Court know that he is so appearing, and that is the invariable practice so far as my experience goes, and where it is followed there can of course be no confusion or misunderstanding in connection with the matter. This Pleader is of 17 years' standing, and he ought, I think, to have known better. But on the whole it will be sufficient to accept his expression of regret and record our censure.
9. Regarding the third case of Babu Mohim Chandra Dey, it is unnecessary to say much. His offence is of a comparatively trifling nature, and the recommendation of the learned District Judge is merely that he be warned. He has already expressed his regret, and the learned Counsel who appears on his behalf has admitted that his conduct is open to censure. I think that all that we need say is that his conduct is reprehensible, and that we trust that he will profit by the warning conveyed by this proceeding.
10. I agree. A strict and scrupulous observance of the rule in regard to the acceptance of vakalatnamas is required in the High Court and the rule must similarly be strictly and scrupulously observed in the Courts below. In connection with the enforcement of the rule, it is always open to a Judge to refuse to hear a Pleader, or to refuse to allow a Pleader to act, who has not accepted a vakalatnama in the prescribed manner. But it is also of course the Judge's duty to take, such action as may be appropriate in regard to infractions of the rule which escape notice at the time and are brought to light subsequently.