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The reputation of good lawyers in the society is at the verge of fall: Madras HC

V.K.Kumaresan v. P.Jayaseelan & Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Chennai, T.R.C.M.P.No.942 of 2019 and C.M.P.No.25642 of 2019

COROM: THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S.VAIDYANATHAN

The averments made in the petition that there was no default at all, cannot be accepted, as the petitioner had paid the arrears pursuant to the orders of this Court in CRP and the attempt of the petitioner to project himself that he is a law abiding citizen and that he is prompt in payment of rent, is nothing, but tying a flower on the ear and the conduct of the petitioner is unbecoming of a lawyer. It is saddening to note that owing to intrusion of black sheep into the noble profession of advocacy, like the petitioner, the reputation of good lawyers in the society is at the verge of fall. The petitioner is a venom and if he is allowed to be mingled with other members of the Bar freely, the entire profession would be ruined, like a single drop of poison in a pot of milk turning the whole milk into poison

The lawyer had taken a 1,113 square feet property, belonging to doctor P. Jayaseelan, for a monthly rent of ₹1,800. However, claiming that he did not pay the rent properly since 2006 and was also using the property as a dumping yard, the landlord asked him to vacate in 2010.

The lawyer refused to vacate and so a rent control petition was filed. A trial court allowed the petition in favour of the doctor in 2015 and directed the lawyer to pay rental arears of ₹1.94 lakh. Subsequently, the landlord also filed an execution petition to initiate eviction proceedings but, in the meantime, the lawyer went on appeal.

After multiple legal proceedings, the lawyer settled the rental arrears but did not vacate the property. In the affidavit filed by the petitioner in support of this petition, it is averred that there was a tenancy agreement between him, and the landlord and he had cleared the entire dues due to the landlord. It is further averred that when there is no default on his part, he cannot be evicted. The petitioner seeks transfer of the case on the ground of purported bias shown by the Principal Sub-Ordinate Court, Vellore.

  1. There was a default on the part tenant between 2006 and 2010 and the tenant was committing the acts of waste in the scheduled property;

  2. When the landlord requested the tenant to hand over the vacant possession of the property for setting up a clinic, being a Doctor, he had refused to evict the premises, which compelled the landlord to file RCOP No.24 of 2010 on the ground of

  3. wilful default from February 2006 to March 2010,

  4.  acts of waste and

  5. own use and occupation to establish a clinic and though the landlord obtained a favourable order, he is not allowed to enjoy the fruits of that order.

The tenant had filed RCA against the order made in RCOP with a delay and subsequently, the delay was condoned and the order made in RCOP was stayed by the Principal Sub Court, Vellore.

Mr.C.K.Chandrasekar, learned counsel appearing for Respondent 2, by drawing the attention of this Court to Section 35 of The Advocates Act, 1961, has stated that the said section prescribes certain procedures to be followed to take action against an Advocate for his misconduct. For the sake of convenience, Section 35 is extracted hereunder:

“35. Punishment of advocates for misconduct.—

(1) Where on receipt of a complaint or otherwise a State Bar Council has reason to believe that any advocate on its roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.

1[(1A) The State Bar Council may, either of its own motion or on application made to it by any person interested, withdraw a proceeding pending before its disciplinary committee and direct the inquiry to be made by any other disciplinary committee of that State Bar Council.]

(2) The disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council shall fix a date for the hearing of the case and shall cause a notice thereof to be given to the advocate concerned and to the Advocate-General of the State.

(3) The disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council after giving the advocate concerned and the Advocate-General an opportunity of being heard, may make any of the following orders, namely:

 (a)  dismiss the complaint or, where the proceedings were initiated at the instance of the State Bar Council, direct that the proceedings be filed;

 (b) reprimand the advocate;

 (c) suspend the advocate from practice for such period as it may deem fit;

(d) remove the name of the advocate from the State roll of advocates.

After carefully listening to the arguments posted by the learned advocates, the court condemned the petitioner by stating that

“A lawyer’s profession is meant to be a divine or sacred profession by all means. In every profession, there are certain professional ethics that need to be followed by every person who is into such a profession. But there is the fact that professional misconduct is a common aspect, not only in other professions but also in advocacy also. Misconduct means any acts, which are unlawful in nature even though they are not inherently wrongful. Before the Advocates Act, 1961, there was an Act called Legal Practitioners Act, 1879. Even though there is no definition given for the term ‘misconduct’ in the Act, the term ‘unprofessional conduct’ is being used in the Act. Some of the instances of professional misconduct are, Dereliction of duty, Professional negligence, Misappropriation, Changing sides, Contempt of court and improper behaviour before a Magistrate, Furnishing false information, Giving improper advice, Misleading the clients in court, Not speaking the truth, Disowning allegiance to the court, Moving application without informing that a similar application has been rejected by another authority, Suggesting to bribe the court officials, Forcing the prosecution witness not to say the truth, etc. It is left to the choice of the petitioner / Advocate under which misconduct he can be branded?”

It is apt to state that law profession is already under severe criticism and due to the activities of lawyers in this State, it further started diminishing its reputation among public. If the tenant, like petitioner / Advocate is allowed to occupy the premises, a situation may arise, when no owner will rent out his building to an Advocate and in that event, people will definitely lose their faith in the justice delivery system. In olden days,respect extended to lawyers were inexplicable and that they were given utmost regards in the society. At this point of time, it is appropriate for me to recollect an incident described by my father that when my father was travelling in a Tram in Madras, a young chap got into it and was standing near to an old man. The old man asked the chap as to what he was doing and upon hearing that the young chap was a Lawyer, he immediately stood up and requested that chap to sit in his seat. Lawyer gained that kind of respect in those days and it is a million dollar question as to whether those days will come back. Even many of our great leaders, like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr.B.R.Ambedkar are lawyers, who sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of justice besides fighting for freedom and several unknown lawyers had also lost their lives in the freedom struggle.

When the owner of a building requires it for his own use, it is the duty of a tenant to hand over the same and the tenant cannot squat on the property, by stating himself that there was no default, much less wilful default, especially after introduction of the new Act, namely, The Tamil Nadu Regulation of Rights and Responsibilities of Landlord and Tenants Act, 2017, by which, the Tenant has no right whatsoever to refuse handing over of the vacant possession of the property to its owner.

Thus, Justice S. Vaidyanathan passed the order on a petition filed by the lawyer V.K. Kumaresan that this Transfer Civil Miscellaneous Petition is disposed of. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.

– Karthik K.P

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