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Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

Shambhuram Yadav (petitioner) vs Hanumandas Khatri (respondent) (AIR 2001 SC 2509)

BENCH OF JUDGES: KT Thomas and YK Sabharwal

FACTS of the case:

1)A complaint filed by Shambhuram Yadav (appellant) against Hanumandas Khatri (respondent) advocate before BAR COUNCIL of Rajasthan was referred to the disciplinary committee of BAR COUNCIL of Rajasthan.

2)The complaint was that the respondent while appearing as a council in a suit pending in a civil court wrote a letter to MAHANT RAJGIRI (his client) and stated that his another client told him that the concerned judge accepts bribe and he has obtained several favorable orders in his favor and for that reason he(the client) should send him a sum of Rs10,000 , so through that said client, the suit got decided in favour of MAHANT RAJGIRI.

3)This letter is not disputed. In reply to the complaint, respondent pleaded that the services of the Presiding Judge were terminated on account of illegal gratification and he had followed the norms of professional ethics and brought these facts to the knowledge of his client to protect his interest and the money was not sent by his client to him.

3)The state BAR COUNCIL noticed that the respondent admitted to the contents of the letter as true and come to a conclusion that he has mis-conducted. Court held him guilty of professional misconduct under section 35 of the Advocates Act, 1961. He was also been suspended from his practice for a period of 2 years. w.e.f from 15th June 1997.

4)The respondent challenged the aforesaid order before the Disciplinary Committee of Bar Council of India. By order dated 31st July 1999, the Disciplinary Committee of Bar Council of India enhanced the punishment and directed that the name of the respondent be struck off from the roll of advocates, thus debarring him permanently from the practice.

5)The respondent filed a review petition under Section 44 of the Advocates Act against the order dated 31st July 1999. The review petition was allowed and the earlier order modified, to the extent and his suspension for life was revoked and he was only reprimanded.

6) But it was held by the COURT that the earlier committee had considered all relevant facts, and then came to the conclusion that the advocate was not worthy of remaining in the profession. The age factor and the factor of a number of years put in by the respondent were taken into consideration by the committee when removal from the roll of the State Council was directed.

7)The COURT stated that the exercise of power of review does not empower a Disciplinary Committee to modify the earlier order passed by another Disciplinary Committee taking a different view of the same set of facts. Thus, the impugned order dated 4th June 2000 was set aside and the original order of Bar Council of India dated 31st July 1999 was restored. The appeal was allowed in the above terms with costs quantified at Rs.10,000/-

JUDGEMENT of the case:

The Supreme Court, upholding the finding of the Rajasthan Bar Council held that the legal profession is not a trade or business. Members belonging to the profession have a particular duty to uphold the integrity of the profession and to discourage corruption in order to ensure that justice is secured in a legal manner. The credibility and reputation of the profession depend upon the manner in which the members of the profession conduct themselves. There is heavy responsibility on those on whom duty has been vested under the Advocates Act, 1961 to take disciplinary action when the credibility and reputation of the profession come under a cloud on account of acts of omission and commission by any member of the profession. The act of the advocate was misconduct of the highest degree as it not only obstructed the administration of justice but eroded the reputation of the profession in the opinion of the public.

Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar

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