|Case No||Appeal (civil) 3588 of 1984|
|Citations||AIR 1997 SC 1338|
|Bench||S.C. Agrawal & G.B. Pattanaik|
Prahlad Saran Gupta collected a sum of Rs. 1600 from the judgement debtor and did not pay it to the Decree Holder but later deposited in the court before going appeal against the bar council disciplinary proceedings.
The Supreme Court has held that the anticipated settlement between the parties for Rs.1500/- was deposited with the appellant, but he did not return the amount either to the decree holder nor the judgement debtor and retained the amount for himself until he deposited the said amount in the court which is against the professional ethics and conduct especially being a senior counsel this kind of conduct is not expected.
Therefore the Supreme Court held that for this ground the appellant was held guilty for gross professional misconduct and is punished for the same. The punishment of reprimand is imposed on the appellant for this part of his misconduct to meet the ends of justice.
The appellant Pralhad Saran Gupta was a practicing lawyer at Ghaziabad of UP. He was appearing for the decree holder in Execution Case No. 55 of 1974 M/s. Alma Ram Nanak Chand v. Shri Ram Contractor, in the Court of Civil Judge, Ghaziabad. A complaint was received by the U.P. State Bar Council from one, Rajendra Prasad (hereinafter referred to as 'the complainant), a partner of the firm M/S. Atma Ram Nanak Chand, on August 1, 1979. In the said complaint the complainant has made the following allegations against the appellant :
(1) The appellant had colluded with the judgment debtor and had realised Rs. 1,600 from him out of Which the sum of Rs. 1,500 was withheld by the appellant with himself and he did not pay it to the decree holder for a period of eight months inspite of repeated requests and in order to harass the decree holder, instead of handing over the same personally to him, he deposited the said amount in Court on May 2, 1978. The balance amount of Rs, 100 was taken by him as fee from the judgment debtor to enable him to get time from the High Court for procuring stay order in the execution proceedings.
(2) The appellant received Rs. 245 from the judgment debtor for getting some other counsel engaged to get the execution proceedings stayed and to see that the auction of judgment debtor's property was not approved by the court. The appellant got Shri Mahesh Prasad Tyagi, Advocate engaged from the side of the judgment debtor and charged Rs, 110 for the purpose and that the execution of the decree was delayed due to careless handling of the case by the appellant since no permission for biding at auction from the court was obtained deliberately in order to leave a lacuna for delaying the execution and that Shri M.P. Tyagi, Advocate, taking advantage of the said lacuna, filed objection under Order 21 Rule 72 C.P.C. for cancellation of the auction, The appellant, as counsel for the complainant's firm, had Filed Suit No. 10 of 1977 against Pradhan Shri Ramnath Singh in the court of Munsif (Judge, Small Causes Court, Gajiabad) with utter carelessness with the result that their new counsel had to take back the plaint on April 26, 1978 to file it in the proper court, namely, the Court of Civil Judge (Judge, Small Causes Court), Ghaziabad.
The Disciplinary Committee did not find merit in the allegation in the complaint that the appellant was grossly careless in handling the execution case and he deliberately did not seek permission from the court for the decree holder to bid at the auction in order to leave legal lacuna for the execution of the decree.
The Disciplinary Committee has accepted the explanation of the appellant that the permission was not sought under Order 21 Rule 72 C.P.C. in view of the amendment of the said rule by the Allahabad High Court. The Disciplinary Committee did not also find merit in the case of the complainant that the appellant had filed title Suit No. 10 of 1977 on behalf of the firm M/s, Atma Ram Nanak Chand in the court of Munsif, Ghaziabad with “utter carelessness and that the suit should have been filed in the Court of Civil Judge (Small Causes Court), Ghaziabad”.
The Disciplinary Committee has observed that “they could not see any reason not to accept the version of the appellant that at the relevant time the court of Munsif, Ghaziabad was the proper court having jurisdiction”.
As regards advance of loan to Sunderlal, the Disciplinary Committee observed that a single case of advance of loan on interest cannot make out a case of the lender engaging in money lending business. The Disciplinary Committee has, however, found the appellant guilty of gross professional mis-conduct on the basis of the following findings
We are, therefore, of the view that the appellant has been rightly held guilty of professional mis-conduct for his having wrongfully retained Rs. 1,500 which had been kept with him in connection with the settlement in the execution proceedings. We think that the ends of justice would be met if the punishment of reprimand is imposed on the appellant for the said mis-conduct on his part.
We therefore, partly allow the appeal and, while holding the appellant guilty of professional misconduct in wrongfully retaining the amount of Rs. 1,500 which was kept with him in connection with the settlement in the execution proceedings till he deposited the said amount in the Court on may 2, 1978 and in not paying the said amount to the decree holder inspite of demand, we impose the penalty of reprimand on the appellant for the said mis-conduct. No order as to costs.