Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar
Facts : This appeal has been filed by Vikas Deshpande, advocate, hereinafter referred to as 'the appellant', under Section 38 of the Advocates Act, 1961 [for short 'the act'] against the final order passed by the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India in BCI/TRC No.51 of 1995 dated 3rd January, 2001.
Ramrao Chandoba Jadhav, Vidyadhar Ramrao Jadhav, and Chandrakant Ramdeo Jadhav (all deceased), hereinafter referred to as "the complainants", were prosecuted for committing murder of six persons on 16th December 1990 at village Mandgi,District-Nanded. Complainants requested the Sessions Court for appointment of an advocate as amicus curiae to defend them as they were unable to engage an advocate because of their poverty.
Sessions Court appointed Shri S.V.Ardhapurkar, Advocate as amicus curiae to defend the complainants. Sessions Court after trial found the complainants guilty of the offence charged with and awarded them death penalty by an order dated 30th August 1991.
Appellant took the copies of the judgment from the complainants and obtained their thumb impression and signatures on the Vakalatnama to prefer an appeal in the High Court of Bombay at Aurangabad Bench. Appellant told the complainants that he would not be charging any fee as he was doing this to make a name for himself.
On 10th October 1991 appellant visited the Yervada Central Prison again and obtained their signatures on some stamp papers. The deed was not read over to the complainants nor the contents were made known to them. Complainants signed and put their thumb impression on the documents in good faith.
In January 1992, the High Court dismissed the appeal of the complainants and subsequently they were hanged to death.The appellant had sold their land on the basis of power of attorney in his favour. That he had appropriated the money received by him towards his fees.
Thereafter the complainants filed a complaint with the Chairman, State Bar Council to the effect that the appellant who was practising as an advocate at Nanded, Maharashtra committed an act which amounted to professional misconduct within the meaning of Section 35 of the Advocates Act and for the said act disciplinary action be taken.
Appreciating the seriousness of the complaint made by the complainants, State Bar Council took sou motu cognizance and issued notice to the appellant who filed his reply. It was further stated that on the request of the complainants on 30th August 1991 he accepted the vakalatnama on behalf of the complainants on an oral agreement that the complainants would pay Rs.50,000/- to the appellant for conducting the confirmation case and the appeal before the High Court. That the complainants agreed to pay a sum of Rs.50,000/- as fees and authorised him to dispose of their land to recover and appropriate the money received by way of sale towards his fees.
Issues before state bar council:
Do petitioners prove that the respondent advocate solicited brief for no remuneration?
Do petitioners prove that the respondent advocate on 10th October 1991 met petitioners and obtained their signatures on the stamp paper without explaining the contents of the stamp paper.
Do petitioners prove that the respondent advocate met them on 16th Feb. 1992 and told them that he had sold their land under the power of attorney executed by them and told them that he would prefer an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the judgment and order of the High Court.
He had obtained signatures and thumb impressions of the complainants on some documents. Without informing and to the knowledge of the complainants a power of attorney was got executed in favour of the appellant to sell off the land. The power of attorney was obtained by the appellant on misrepresentation. In pursuance of the alleged power of attorney in his favour, the appellant sold the land of the complainants fraudulently. It is also established that fees of the appellant had not been settled at Rs. 50,000/-.He was neither entitled nor justified in selling the land of the complainants on the basis of the power of attorney for the recovery of his fees. Therefore, the disciplinary committee of Bar Council Of India permanently debarred the appellant from practicing as an advocate.The punishment was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Submitted by Aadesh Agarkar