23 November 1955
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 1506 of 1955






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 23/11/1955


CITATION:  1956 AIR  102            1955 SCR  (2)1006

ACT: Bar   Councils   Act-Misconduct  in  capacity   other   than professional-Jurisdiction of Court-Bar Councils Act (XXXVIII of 1926), s.   10-Supreme Court Rules, Order IV, Rule 30.

HEADNOTE: Section  10  of the Bar Councils Act confers  on  the  Court jurisdiction to take disciplinary action against an Advocate not  merely  for  professional  misconduct  but  any   other misconduct  committed  in  any other capacity  as  well  and leaves  it to the Court’s discretion to take such action  as it thinks fit in any suitable case. The  Advocate-General of Bombay v. Three  Advocates  ([1934] I.L.R.  69  Bom. 57), In the matter of an  Advocate  ([1936] T.L.R. 63 Cal. 867) and In re a Pleader (I.L.R. [1943]  Mad. 595), referred to. In re Thomas James Wallace ([1866] L.R. I P.C. 283), and  In re  an  Advocate of Benares (A.I.R. [1932] All.  492),  held inapplicable. Consequently, in a case where an Advocate figuring as an ac- cused  in  a  case  under the  Bombay  Prohibition  Act  was persistently   rude  to  and  contemptuous  of   the   trial Magistrate and did all in his power to hold up the trial and bring  the administration of justice into contempt,  be  was guilty of misconduct and as such was liable to be  suspended from practice.

JUDGMENT: Din person M.  C.  Setalvad,  Attorney-General  for  India,  as  amicus curiae, 1007 1955.  November 23. The Judgment of the Court was  delivered by DAS  J.-This Rule was issued by this Court under  Order  IV, rule 30 of the Rules of this Court after receipt of a report from the Bombay High Court that that High Court had, by  its order made on the 13th October 1955 in Civil Application No. 1506  of 1955, suspended the respondent from practice as  an



Advocate  of that High Court for a period of one  year  from the date of the said order.  By the rule the respondent  has been  required  to  show cause why, in view  of  the  matter specified in the judgment and order of the Bombay High Court referred  to  above,  appropriate  action,  disciplinary  or otherwise, should not be taken against him by this Court. The respondent is an Advocate of some standing in the Bombay High  Court and as such was also enrolled as an Advocate  of this Court.  It appears that in the earlier part of the year 1953 the Advocate was prosecuted before Mr. Sonavane, one of the Presidency Magistrates at Bombay, on a charge of  having committed an offence under the Bombay Prohibition Act.   The trial  lasted from July 1953 to November 1953.  On the  18th November  1953 the Magistrate convicted the Advocate of  the offence  with  which  he was charged and  sentenced  him  to rigorous imprisonment for one month and to a fine of Rs. 201 and  to  rigorous imprisonment of four weeks in  default  of payment of the fine.  The Advocate went up on appeal to  the High Court.  The High Court on the 24th February 1954 upheld the  conviction but altered the sentence to one of  fine  of Rs. 1,000 only. In  the  meantime,  on the 25th  November  1953,  the  trial Magistrate,  Mr.  Sonavane, made a report to  the  Registrar (Appellate Side) of the Bombay High Court as to the  conduct of the Advocate who appeared in person as the accused before him.   On  a perusal of that report the  Hon’ble  the  Chief Justice  of  the Bombay High Court  constituted  a  Tribunal consisting  of three members of the Bar Council  to  enquire into  the  conduct of the Advocate.  The Tribunal  issued  a summons 1008 against  the Advocate intimating that it would enquire  into his conduct as disclosed in:- (a)the  report  dated the 25th November 1953 of Shri  T.  A. Sonavane,  B.A., LL.B., Presidency Magistrate,  18th  Court, Girgaum,  Bombay,  to the Registrar, High  Court,  Appellate Side, Bombay, regarding Case No. 593/P of 1953 tried by him, and (b) the judgment recorded by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay  in Criminal Appeal No. 1532 of 1953  (with  Criminal Appeal No. 1564 of 1953) upholding the judgment and order of conviction  passed  against  him by  the  aforesaid  learned Magistrate in the aforesaid case. The  proceedings appear to have been somewhat protracted  by reason  of frequent objections made and petitions  filed  by the  respondent  but eventually on or about the  16th  March 1955  the respondent forwarded to the Secretary to  the  Bar Council Tribunal a copy of a letter addressed by him to  the Registrar, High Court, Bombay, and requested the Tribunal to send  a  report to the High Court in terms of  his  pleading guilty  to the charges levelled against him.   He  concluded the  letter by expressing regret for having wasted the  time of  the  Tribunal.   In his letter  to  the  Registrar,  the respondent    enclosed    a   separate    written    apology unconditionally   withdrawing   his  contention   that   the proceedings before the Tribunal were misconceived in law and admitting  that the High Court had full authority in law  to refer  the  matter to the Bar Council Tribunal  and  further that the statements made by Mr. Sonavane in his report  were true except in two respects therein specified.  On the  28th March 1955 the respondent submitted an additional  statement clarifying   and   supplementing   his   previous   apology. Thereupon the Tribunal made a report to the High Court.   By this  report  the  Tribunal held, on  the  respondent’s  own admission., the allegations in the report of Mr. Sonavane to



be proved and recommended that a very serious notice  should be taken of the respondent’s conduct.  As regards the second item  in  the  summons  the  Tribunal  held  that  the  mere conviction  of the respondent under the Prohibition Act  did not amount 1009 to professional or other misconduct under section 10 of  the Indian Bar Councils Act and, therefore, found him not guilty of that charge. On a perusal of that report the High Court issued notice  to the respondent for final hearing of the matter.  The  matter came up for final disposal before a Bench consisting of  the Chief  Justice and Tendolkar, J. on the 13th  October  1955. Learned  counsel  appearing for the  respondent  offered  an unconditional  and  unqualified  apology on  behalf  of  the respondent and pleaded that the ends of justice would be met if the Court only administered a warning to the  respondent. After considering the report of the Tribunal the High  Court took  the view that the misconduct of the respondent was  so serious  and  so grave that a deterrent punishment  must  be imposed   on  him.   Accordingly,  taking  everything   into consideration, the High Court suspended the respondent  from practice  for  a period of one year from the  date  of  that order.   The respondent’s application for a  certificate  of fitness  for appeal to this Court having been  refused,  the respondent  filed  a petition for special  leave  to  appeal before us. That petition has, however, been dismissed by us. The  rule  for disciplinary action now remains to  be  dealt with. In answer to the rule the respondent has filed a petition by way of showing cause.  Paragraph 7 of that petition runs  as follows:- "7.  That the report of the learned  Presidency  Magistrate, 18th Court, is a highly exaggerated, garbled and  manifestly incorrect version of the incidents that occurred during  the trial  of the case.  And looking to the circumstances  under which the petitioner was more or less compelled to tender  a humiliating apology, this Hon’ble Court be pleased to direct that a proper inquiry be held in the matter by or under  the directions of this Hon’ble Court". Appearing  in person before us the respondent has  contended with  a certain amount of vehemence that he had not had  any fair  deal  before the Tribunal, that the  Tribunal  had  no jurisdiction  to  enter  upon the enquiry  inasmuch  as  the misconduct complained of 1010 was not committed by him in his capacity as an Advocate, for he  appeared  in person as the accused  in  the  Prohibition case, that the Tribunal had at one stage held that it had no jurisdiction but had without giving him a hearing gone  back on that decision and declined to decide that question in his presence,  that the Tribunal failed to formulate any  formal charge, that he made an application to the High Court  under article  227  for  quashing  the  proceedings  for  want  of jurisdiction   but   the  High  Court  had   rejected   that application  and  declined  to give  him  a  certificate  of fitness  for  appeal to this Court and pointed  out  various other  matters which he characterised as  showing  prejudice and bias on the part of the Tribunal. It  was pointed out to the respondent that  his  application for  special leave to appeal from the judgment and order  of the  High Court having been dismissed we were not,  in  this Rule,  concerned  with the proceedings in  the  Bombay  High Court or before the Tribunal of the Bar Council as  observed by  this Court in In the matter of Mr. G, a Senior  Advocate



of the Supreme Court(1).  The respondent then fell back upon paragraph  7  of his petition quoted above  and  asked  this Court  to  hold a fresh enquiry into the matter.   From  the judgment  of the Bombay High Court which is referred  to  in the  Rule issued herein it appears that the  respondent  had admitted the truth of everything contained in Mr. Sonavane’s report  except  two matters only.  In his  present  petition showing  cause  he does not, apart from a  vague  allegation that  the report is an exaggerated, garbled  and  manifestly incorrect version of the incidents that occurred during  the trial of the case, refer to any particular statement therein which is exaggerated, garbled or incorrect.  In view of  his unconditional  admission of the truth of the  statements  in the report of Mr. Sonavane we are not prepared to permit him to  go back on the same on such vague allegations as are  to be found in paragraph 7 of his petition.  It is needless for us  to  emphasise  that a  person  holding  the  responsible position of an Advocate of a High Court (1)  [1955] 1 S.C.R. 490, 495. 1011 and of this Court cannot be permitted to play with the Court in  the  way  this  Advocate  has  done.   He  admitted  the correctness of the report, confessed his guilt and  tendered an unconditional apology evidently in the hope that he would get  away with it by merely tendering an  apology.   Finding that  the  tactics did not work with the High  Court  as  he expected the same to do, he now wants -to change his tactics by  asking  for an enquiry which he had himself  avoided  by means  of his admission and apology.  This we are  not  pre- pared  to permit him to do.  We have carefully gone  through the  report of Mr. Sonavane and we find ourselves in  entire agreement with the High Court when it says that that  report makes  an  extremely  sad  reading.   The  conduct  of   the respondent in the criminal trial was, as pointed out by  the High  Court,  entirely  indefensible by  any  standard.   It discloses a continuous and persistent attempt on the part of the  respondent  to  be  rude to  and  contemptuous  of  the Magistrate, to hold up the trial and to do everything in his power to bring the administration of justice into  contempt. Such a conduct, in our opinion, merits severe condemnation. The respondent has drawn our attention to the case of In  re Thomas  James  Wallace(1)  which was followed in  In  re  An Advocate  of Benares(2).  We do not conceive that the  Privy Council intended to lay down any fixed and rigid rule of law or did anything more than indicate the course which, in  the circumstances of that case, it considered to be  reasonable, satisfactory  and convenient and the Allahabad  case  simply followed the same.  As has been held by a Full Bench of  the Bombay High Court in The Advocate-General of Bombay v. Three Advocates(3),  the  Indian Legislature by  using  the  words "professional  or  other misconduct" in section  10  of  the Indian  Bar  Councils Act intended to confer  on  the  Court disciplinary  jurisdiction  to take action in all  cases  of misconduct  whether  in  a professional  or  other  capacity leaving it to the discretion of Court to take action only in suitable (1) [1866] L.R. I.P.C. 283.    (2) A.I.R. 1932 All. 492. (3) [1934] I.L.R. 59 Bom. 57. 128 1012 cases.   To  the like effect is the decision  of  a  Special Bench  of  the Calcutta High Court in In the  matter  Of  an Advocate,(1).  The pleader concerned in the case of In re  a Pleader(2) was certainly not, by shouting slogans in  Court, functioning  as an Advocate, nevertheless he was dealt  with



under   section  13(f)  of  the  Legal  Practitioners   Act. Wallace’s  case (supra) was not a decision on any  statutory provision such as we have in the Legal Practitioners Act  or the Bar Councils Act. For  the reasons stated above and in view of the conduct  of the   Advocate  seen  in  the  light  of   the   surrounding circumstances  we are clearly of opinion that  the  Advocate should, by reason of his having indulged in conduct unworthy of  a  member  of  the honourable  profession  to  which  he belongs, be suspended from practice for some time.  He is an Advocate of this Court and according to a majority  decision of this Court he is entitled, under the Supreme Court  Advo- cates  (Practice  in  High  Courts)  Act,  to  exercise  his profession in all Courts throughout the Union of India.  Any suspension  for a period less than the period fixed  by  the Bombay High Court will obviously lead to serious anomaly and inconvenience.   We  accordingly direct  that  the  Advocate concerned  be  suspended  from practice  for  a  period  co- terminous with the period of suspension fixed by the  Bombay High Court, namely, up to the 13th October, 1956. (1)  [1936] I.L.R. 63 Cal. 867. (2)  I.L.R. [1943] Mad. 459. 1013