29 November 1956
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal (civil) 176 of 1956






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 29/11/1956


CITATION:  1957 AIR  250            1957 SCR  167

ACT: Legal  Practitioner-Report--Procedure-Not open  to  District judge  to send back report to the Subordinate  civil  judge- Report  once made Proceedings can terminate by- Final  Order of  the  High Court only--Member of the Bar-Officer  of  the Court-Duty  to client and Court-Dignity and decorum  of  the Court must be upheld-Conduct-Not a matter between individual member of Bar and a member of Judicial  Service-Disciplinary action-Punishment-Mitigating  circumstances-Interference  by Supreme  Court-Legal Practitioners Act (XVIII of  1879),  s. 14.

HEADNOTE: The appellant pleader who already had strained relation with the Munsif made certain objectionable remarks in open Court, suggesting  partiality  and unfairness on the  part  of  the Munsif. The  Munsif  drew up a proceeding under ss. 13,  14  Of  the Legal  Practitioners  Act,  1879, against  the  pleader  and submitted  a report to the High Court through  the  District judge. An application to the Additional District judge was filed by the pleader, for time to move the High Court to get an order to have the matter heard by some judicial Officer other than the 168 Munsif  who  had  made the report.   One  month’s  time  was accordingly  granted, and for some reason which is not  very apparent, the Additional District judge sent the record back to the Munsif.  The Additional District judge made an effort to  settle  the trouble.  It was arranged that  the  pleader should  apologise and a resolution should be passed  by  the members  of  the local Bar  Association.   Accordingly,  the pleader  appeared  in the Court of the Munsif  and  filed  a written  apology  and expressed his regret, and  the  Munsif dropped  the  proceeding.   It  was  later  found  that  the resolution  was  not passed in the terms  suggested  by  the Additional  District  judge,  and the  terms  of  settlement suggested  by  the  latter  were  not  fully  carried   out.



Accordingly, the proceeding was re-opened and the report was re-submitted  to  the District judge who  with  his  opinion forwarded  the  same  to the High  Court.   The  High  Court suspended the pleader for 5 years. It  was contended on behalf of the appellant that there  was no  valid reason for reviving the proceeding, after  it  had once  been  dropped  on the submission  of  an  apology  and expression of regret. Held, that the report under s. 14 of the Legal Practitioners Act is a report which is submitted to the High Court.   When a  report  is  made to the High Court  by  any  Civil  judge subordinate to the District judge, the report shall be  made through   the  District  judge  and  the  report   must   be accompanied  by the opinion of such judge.  Once the  report has been made, it is not open to the District judge to  send back the record to the Subordinate Civil judge, and no order passed by the Subordinate Civil judge can have the effect of terminating or bringing to an end the proceeding.  The  High Court alone is competent to pass final orders on the report. A  member of the Bar is an officer of the Court, and  though he owes a duty to his client and must place before the Court all that can fairly and reasonably be submitted on behalf of his client, he also owes a duty to the Court and must uphold the  dignity  and  decorum  of the  Court  in  which  he  is appearing.  Making amputations of partiality and  unfairness against  the  subordinate  Civil  judge  in  open  Court  is scandalizing the Court in such a way as to pollute the  very fount  of justice ; such conduct is not a matter between  an individual  member of the Bar and a member of  the  judicial Service. With  regard to disciplinary action against a member of  the Bar, the Supreme Court would be reluctant to interfere  with the  order  of  the  High  Court  unless  there  are   clear mitigating circumstances.

JUDGMENT: CIVIL  APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 176 of  1956 and Petition No. 165 of 1955. Appeal   by   special   leave   from   the   judgment    and order  dated March 15/23,1955 of the Orissa High  Court,  in Civil Reference No, 4 of 1954,                             169 N.   C.  Chatterji, D. -N.  Mukherjee and R.  Patinaik,  for the appellant. Porus A. Mehta and R. H. Dhebar, for respondent No. 1. 1956.  November 29.  The Judgment of the Court was delivered by S.K. DAS J.-The appellant is Shri Lalit Mohan Das, a pleader of about 25 years’ standing. who ordinarily practiced in the Courts  at  Anandapur  in the district  of  Mayur  bhanj  in Orissa.  The Munsif of Anandapur, one Shri L. B. N. S.  Deo’ drew  up  a  proceeding under ss. 13 and  14  of  the  Legal Practitioners  Act,  1879, against the pleader  for  grossly improper  conduct in the discharge of his professional  duty and  submitted  a  report  to the  High  Court  through  the District  Judge  of Mayurbhanj on December  12,  1953.   The District  Judge  forwarded the report,  accompanied  by  his opinion, to the High Court of Orissa on March 9, 1954.   The recommendation of the Munsif was that the pleader should  be suspended  from  practice for one year.  The  reference  was heard  by the High Court of Orissa’ and by its  order  dated March  15, 1955, the High Court came to the conclusion  that the pleader was guilty of grave professional misconduct  and



suspended him from practice for a period of five years with. effect from March 15,1955, Shri  Lalit Mohan Das then obtained special leave from  this Court to appeal against the judgment and order of the Orissa High  Court  dated  March 15 /23, 1955.   He  also  filed  a petition under Art. 32 of the Constitution.  Learned counsel for  the petitioner has not pressed the petition under  Art. 32  and nothing more need be said about it.  We proceed  now to deal with the appeal which has been brought to this Court on special leave. The charges against the appellant were the following On July 15,  1953,  the  appellant was appearing on  behalf  of  the defendant  in Suit No. 81 of 1952 pending before the  Munsif of  Anandapur.   On that date, there were  two  other  suits pending  before the same Munsif.  There were  petitions  for time in all the three suits. 22 170 The  Munsif wanted to take up the oldest suit  for  hearing, and the oldest suit being Suit No. 54 of 1952, it was  taken up first and five witnesses for the plaintiff were examined. Suit  No. 81 of 1952 was postponed to August 18, 1953.   The appellant, who appeared for the defendant in that suit,  was informed  of  the  postponement.   When  so  informed,   the appellant made a-remark in open Court and within the hearing of  the  Munsif to this effect: " If the Peshkar  is  gained over,  he can do everything." He then left the  Court.   The Munsif  was  surprised  at the remark  made  and  asked  the appellant to explain his conduct, by means of a letter  sent the  same day.  As the appellant sent no reply,  the  Munsif wrote  again  to the appellant on July 18,  1953.   To  this letter the appellant sent the following reply: "Dear Sir, I  am painfully constrained to receive memo after  memo  for some imaginary act of mine not in any way connected with  my affairs  for  which if any explanation is at  all  warranted officiallv. For  your second memo I felt it desirable as a gentleman  to reply. Further I may request you to be more polite while addressing letters to lawyers.                                        Yours faithfully,                                    Sd. L. M. Das.  Pleader." It  is obvious that the letter of the appellant was  couched in  very  improper  terms  and  considerably  strained   the relation   between  the  Munsif  and  the  appellant.    The appellant,  it  may  be stated here, was at  that  time  the President  of the Anandapur Sub Divisional  Bar  Association which  consisted of about 14 legal practitioners.   On  July 21,  1953, Shri B. Raghava Rao, who was the  predecessor  in office of Shri Deo, came to Anandapur.  He was the guest  of Shri A. V. Ranga Rao, the Sub- Divisional Officer.  One Shri N. C. Mohanty, a pleader of.  Anandapur and who was  related to  the  appellant, -came -to invite the two  Munsifs  to  a luncheon  on  the occasion of a housewarming  ceremony.   On hearing about the trouble between Shri Deo 171 and  the  appellant, Shri B. Raghava Rao interceded  and  it appears  that  the appellant was persuaded to  come  to  the house of the Sub-Divisional officer and to ,say that he  was sorry  for what had happened in court on July 15, 1953,  and that-  he did not happean to insult Shri Deo; Shri  Deo,  it appears,  accepted the apology and for the time  being.  the trouble between the two was smoothed over. A  second  incident, however, took place  on  September  25,



1953.   The  appellant  was appearing  for  a  defendant  in another suit before the Munsif It was Suit No. 101 of  1952. This  suit was fixed for hearing on September 21, 1953.   As that date was a holiday, the suit was taken up ’on September 22, 1953.  Another suit, Suit No. 86 of 1952, was also fixed for hearing on that date but Shri N. C. Mohanty, pleader for the defendants in that suit, took time on the ground of  the illness  of  one  -of  the  defendants,  which  ground   was supported by a medical certificate.  In Suit No. 101 of 1952 also,  the  defendants applied for time. on  the  ground  of illness  of  their  witnesses; but there  being  no  medical certificate  in support of the allegation of illness and  no witnesses  having  been summoned in that suit,  the  learned Munsif refused to grant time, and one Shri P. N. Patnaik who also  represented  the defendants agreed to go on  with  the suit.   The  suit  was then heard for two days,  i.  e.,  on September  22  and  23,  1953, and at  the  request  of  the defendants’  lawyers the hearing of arguments was  postponed to  September 25, 1953.  On that date the appellant came  to Court accompanied by his junior Shri P. N. Patnaik, for  the purpose of arguing the case on behalf of the defendants.  At the  very  outset of his arguments the  appellant  made  the follwing remarks:The Court is unfair to me, while the  Court was  fair to Mr. Misra (meaning Shri Bhagabat  Prasad  Misra who  was  appearing for the plaintiffs in that  suit).   The Court  is  accommodating and granting  adjournments  to  Mr. Misra  while it was not accommodating me.". The Munsif  took objection  to these remarks but nothing  untoward  happened. The appellant concluded his arguments. 172 A  third  incident  brought matters to a  climax,  and  this incident  took place on September 29, 1953.   The  appellant was appearing for the defendants in Suit No. 6 of 1951.   In that   suit   a  preliminary  point  of   jurisdiction   and sufficiency  of  court fees was raised and Shri  B.  Raghava Rao,  the predecessor in office of Shri Deo, had dealt  with the point and decided it against the appellant’s client.   A Civil  Revision taken to the High Court was  also  rejected. ’The appellant, however, again pressed the same  preliminary point  and on September. 29, 1953, Shri Deo passed an  order dismissing  the preliminary objection.  When this order  was shown  to the appellant, he stood up and shouted at the  top of   his  voice-I’I  on  behalf  of  the  Bar   Association, Anandapur, challenge the order of the Court,.  The Court has no principle as it is passing one kind of order in one  suit and  another kind of order in another suit." The Munsif,  it appears,  was disgusted at the conduct of the appellant  and he  stood up and, left the Court room, directing  the  bench clerk to send a telegram to the District Judge., A  telegram was  accordingly  sent to the District Judge asking  him  to come to Anandapur.  The District Judge asked for a  detailed report  which  was sent on October 1, 1953.  On  October  5, 1953, the Munsif drew up a proceeding against the  appellant on  a  charge  under s. 13 of the  Legal  Practitioners  Act referring  therein to the three incidents  mentioned  above. The  appellant was asked to show cause by October 26,  1953. On  November 3, 1953, the appellant denied  the  allegations made  and  took  up the attitude that  the  Munsif  was  not competent to hold the enquiry on the ground that the  Munsif was in the position of a complainant.  The appellant gave  a different  version  of what happened on the three  dates  in question.  With regard to the incident of July 15, 1953, the appellant’s plea was that some other client had come to him. in connection with a criminal case pending in another  Court and  to that client the appellant had said that  an  enquiry



should be made from the Peshkar as to the date fixed.   With regard  to the incident, on September 25, 1953, the plea  of the appellant was^ total denial, and with regard to the last incident, the appellant said 173 that  the Munsif behaved rudely- and wanted to’ assault  the appellant, for which the appellant appears, to have filed  a petition  to the Governor of Orissa on September  30,  1953, for according sanction for the prosecution of  the Munsif. It may be stated here that on October 8, 1953, a  resolution was  passed, numbered Resolution 6, which purported to be  a resolution on behalf of the Bar Association, Anandapur.  The resolution was in these termis: "Resolved  that on September 29, 1953, the Court’s  (Munsif) action  on the. dais in rising from the chair,  thumping  on the  table, shouting at the top of his voice, and using  the words ’shut up’ against one honourable member (President) of this  Bar Association is quite  unprecedented.,  undesirable and  affecting  the  prestige  of  the  Bar  and  may  cause apprehension in the mind of the litigant public to get  fair justice." It  may  be  stated  that some  other  members  of  the  Bar dissociated  themselves from the a id resolution at a  later date.  The proceeding against the appellant under the  Legal Practitioners  Act  stated,  as we  have  said  earlier,  on October  5,  1953,  and  the  appellant  filed  his  written statement  on  November 3, 1953.  On November 5,  1953,  the Munsif  sent the record to the District Judge in  connection with  the plea of the appellant that the enquiry  should  be made  by some other judicial officer.  The  District  Judge, however,  took the view that under the provisions of ss.  13 and 14 of the Legal Practitioners Act the enquiry should  be made by the Munsif himself and the records were  accordingly sent back to the Munsif.  Thereafter, the appellant  non-co- operated and did not appear at the enquiry though more  than one communication was sent to ham The enquiry was  concluded on  December 11, 1953, and the Munsif submitted his  report. to,.  the High Court through the District Judge on  December 12,  1953.   On December 22, 1953, the  appellant  filed  an application  to  the Additional District Judge for  time  to move the High Court to get an order to have the matter heard by some other judicial officer.  One month’s time was 174 accordingly  granted and the Additional District Judge,  for some reason which is not very apparent, sent the record back to  the  learned  Munsif In  the  meantime,  the  Additional District  Judge,  it appears, made an effort to  settle  the trouble.   On December 23, 1953, he met the members  of  the Bar Association and the Munsif at the inspection bungalow at Anandapur  on  his way to Mayurbhanj.  At  a  -meeting  held there,  a  copy of a draft resolution to be  passed  by  the members  of the Bar Association, Anandapur, was  made  over. This draft resolution was in these terms: "This  Association  re  rets  very  much  that  an  incident relating to the bench clerk of the Civil Court. should  have led to the subsequent unhappy differences between the  Bench and  the  members  of the Bar.  As in the  interest  of  the litigant  public  it is felt not desirable  to  allow  these strained  feelings  to continue  further,  this  Association unanimously  resolves  to withdraw Resolution  No.  6  dated October  8, 1953, passed against the Court  and  communicate copies   of   the   same  to   the   addressees   previously communicated.   It is further resolved to request the  Court to  see to the desirability of withdrawing  the  proceedings that had been started against the various members of the Bar



and  their registered clerks on their expressing  regret  to the Court individually in connection with those proceedings. It is further resolved that the members of the Bar  involved in  the proceedings be requested to take immediate steps  in this direction.  The Association hopes that the bench  clerk who  has  -to some extent been the cause for  this  friction between the Bench and the Bar would be replaced by a  person from a different place at an earlier date." On  January 8, 1954, the appellant appeared in the Court  of the  Munsif  and filed a written apology and  expressed  his regret.  His signature wag taken on the order-sheet and  the order of that date reads: "Sri  L. M. Das, pleader, appears and expresses his  regret. So  the  proceeding  No. 2 of  1952  is  dropped.   Intimate Additional District Judge." No resolution, however, was passed in the terms                             175 suggested by the Additional District Judge.  On January  19, 1954, two resolution,% were passed in the following terms: "No.  1. In - view of the fact that  past  misunderstandings between  the  Munsif  and members of the Bar  caused  by  an incident  relating  to the bench clerk of the  Civil  Court, have  been  removed by amicable  settlement  of  differences existing  between both parties, it is  unanimously  resolved that  resolution  No.  6  dated  October  8,  1953,   stands withdrawn. No.  2. It is further resolved that the copies of the  above resolution be sent to the addressees previously communicated of resolution No. 6 of October 8, 1953." The  learned  Munsif, it appears, wanted to see  the  minute book of the Bar Association, presumably to find out in  what terms  the proposed resolution was passed.  There was  again trouble  between  the  Munsif and  the  appellant  over  the production.  of  the -minute book.  Ultimately,  the  minute book  was  produced,  and on  February  2,1954,  the  Munsif expressed the view that the resolution passed did not  fully carry   out  the  terms  of  settlement  suggested  by   the Additional District Judge.  Accordingly, the proceeding  was re-opened  and the record was re-submitted to  the  District fudge.  The District Judge thereupon sent the report of  the Munsif  to the High Court accompanied by his  opinion.   The High  Court dealt with the report with the result  which  we have already indicated. The main contention of Mr. N. C. Chatterji, who has appeared on  behalf of the appellant is this.  He has submitted  that there  was  no  valid reason  for  reviving  the  proceeding against the appellant, after the proceeding had been dropped on  January  8, 1954, on the submission of  an  apology  and expression  of regret by his client; because,  in  substance and  effect,  the terms of the settlement suggested  by  the Additional District Judge had been complied with.  According to  Mr. Chatterji an expression of regret having  been  made earlier  than the passing of the resolutions on January  19, 1954,  by the Anandapur Bar Association and the bench  clerk having already been transferred from 176 Anandapur, the resolutions could not be in the same terms as were suggested by the Additional District Judge; but the two resolutions  passed  on January 19, 1954  coupled  with  the expression  of  individual regret made on January  8,  1954, complied in substance with the essential terms of the  draft resolution which the Additional District Judge had made over on December 23, 1953.  Mr. Chatterji has contended that this view  of the matter has not been properly considered by  the High  Court.   He has submitted that in view  of  the  order



passed by the learned Munsif himself on January 8, 1954, the proceeding against the appellant should be treated as having been dropped and concluded on that date. Mr. Chatterji has also drawn our attention to ground No.  VI in  the  petition for special leave dated May  9,  1955,  in which the appellant said that he was " willing and  prepared to submit before this Court expressions of unreserved regret and  apology for his error of judament and indiscretion,  if any, in the discharge of his professional duties." We  cannot accept the contention of Mr. Chatterji  that  the order  passed by the learned Munsif on January 8, 1954,  had the  effect  of  terminating  and bringing  to  an  end  the proceeding  against - the appellant.  The learned Judges  of the  High Court rightly pointed out that the report  of  the Munsif  dated  December  12, 1953, was a  report  which  was submitted to the High Court.  Under the provisions of s.  14 of  the  Legal Practitioners Act, such a report  had  to  be forwarded   to  the  High  Court  by  the   District   Judge accompanied  by  his  opinion.   It was  not  open  to.  the Additional  District  Judge to send back the record  to  the Munsif  The efforts of the Additional District  Judge  were, indeed,  well-intentioned;  but  at that  stage,  after  the Munsif had made his report to the High Court, the High Court alone Was competent to pass final orders in the matter. Apart,  however, from that difficulty, we are not  satisfied that  the  terms of settlement suggested by  the  Additional District Judge were fully complied with in this case.  It is true, that the appellant did express his                             177 regret  and to that extent the settlement suggested  by  the Additional District Judge was carried out.  It is also  true that  by  the resolutions passed on January  19,  1954,  the earlier  resolution of October 8, 1953, was  cancelled,  but one essential and important part of the terms of  settlement suggested  by  the Additional District Judge  was  that  the Association  should  express regret at  what  had  happened. Resolution No. I dated January 19, 1954, was so worded as to give  the impression that the misunderstanding  between  the Munsif and the appellant was all due to the bench clerk  and that  misunderstanding having been removed Resolution No.  6 dated  October,$,  1953,  should  be  withdrawn.   There  is nothing in the resolution to show that the appellant was  in any  way  at fault, a fault which he had expiated  I  by  an expression  of  regret.   It may be  pointed  out  that  the earlier ,resolution, Resolution No. 6 dated October 8, 1953, had  been  communicated  to a large number  of  persons  and authorities  and  the  later resolution  dated  January  19, 1,954,  passed in the diluted form in which it  was  passed, could  hardly  undo the damage which had been  made  by  the earlier resolution. On  merits we agree with the High Court that  the  appellant was undoubtedly guilty of grave professional, misconduct.  A member of the Bar undoubtedly owes a duty, to his client and must  place  before  the  Court  all  that  can  fairly  and reasonably  be  submitted on behalf of his client.   He  may -even submit that a particular order is not correct land may ask for a review of that order.  At the same time, a  member of  the ’Bar is an officer of the Court and owes a  duty  to the  Court  in which- he is appearing.  He -must  phold  the dignity  and decorum of the Court and must not do any  thing to.  bring the Court itself into disrepute.   The  appellant before us grossly’ overstepped the limits of proprieety when he  made imputation$; of partiality and unfairiness  against the  Munsif  in open Court.  In suggesting that  the  Munsif followed  no  principle  -in his orders  the  appellant  was



adding insult to- injury, because the ’Munsif -had merely up held an order of his predecessor on the preliminary point of jurisdiction and Court fees, 23 178 which order had been upheld by the High Court in s revision. Scandalising  the Court in such manner is  really  polluting the  very  fount of justice; such conduct as  the  appellant indulged in was not a matter between an individual member of the  Bar  and a member of the judicial service;  it  brought into  disrepute the whole administration of  justice.   From -that point of view, the conduct-of the appellant was highly reprehensible.  The appellant gave no evidence in support of his  version of the incidents, though he had an  opportunity of doingso, if he so desired. The  only point left for consideration, is the  question  of punishment.  On a matter of this nature, this Court would be reluctant  to interfere with the order of the High Court  as respects  the  disciplinary  action to be  taken  against  a member  of  the  Bar who has  been  guilty  of  professional misconduct.     There   are,   however,    two    mitigating circumstances.   One  is  that the  learned  Munsif  himself recommended  suspension of practice for one year only.   The appellant  was  suspended from practice  with  affect,  from March 15,1955.  The order of suspension has now lasted for a little  more  than  a year and  eight  months.   The  second mitigating  circumstance is that the appellant did  file  la written apology     and  expressed  regret  to  the  learned Munsif  onJanuary  8,  1954.  It  is  unfortunate  that  the appellantdid  not  take up a more contrite attitude  in  the High Court.  In this Court, the appellant tried to make  out that  the  proceeding  against  him  should  not  have  been revived;  he  however  showed his willingness  to  offer  an apology  and ex pression of regret Having regard to all  the circumstances, we think that the punishment imposed errs -on the  side  of  excess.  We -would  accordingly  reduece  the period of susppusion to, two years only. In the result, the petition, under Art. 32 is dismissed  and the appeal is,also dismissed subject to the reduction of the period   of   suspension  as  indicated   above.    In   the circumstances of this case, there will be, no ’order for costs. Appeal dismissed                             179