Professional Misconduct by Advocates

In the case of Supreme Court Bar Association Vs. Union of India and Another, , it has been held that professional misconduct may also amount to Contempt of Court (para 21). It has further been held as follows:

“79. An advocate who is found guilty of Contempt of Court may also, as already noticed, be guilty of professional misconduct in a given case but it is for the Bar Council of the State or Bar Council of India to punish that advocate by either debarring him from practice or suspending his licence, as may be warranted, in the facts and circumstances of each case. The learned Solicitor General informed us that there have been cases where the Bar Council of India taking note of the contumacious and objectionable conduct of an advocate, had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him and even punished him for “professional misconduct”, on the basis of his having been found guilty of committing Contempt of Court. We do not entertain any doubt that the Bar Council of the State or Bar Council of India, as the case may be, when apprised of the established contumacious conduct of an advocate by the High Court or by this Court, would rise to the occasion, and take appropriate action against such an advocate. Under Article 144 of the Constitution all authorities, civil and judicial, in the territory of India shall act in aid of the Supreme Court”. The Bar Council which performs a public duty and is charged with the obligation to protect the dignity of the profession and maintain professional standards and etiquette is also obliged to act “in aid of the Supreme Court”. It must, whenever facts warrant, rise to the occasion and discharge its duties uninfluenced by the position of the contemner advocate. It must act in accordance with the prescribed procedure, whenever its attention is drawn by this Court to the contumacious and unbecoming conduct of an advocate which has the tendency to interfere with due administration of justice. It is possible for the High Courts also to draw the attention of the Bar Council of the State to a case of professional misconduct of a contemner advocate to enable the State Bar Council to proceed in the manner prescribed by the Act and the Rules framed thereunder. There is no justification to assume that the Bar Councils would not rise to the occasion, as they are equally responsible to uphold the dignity of the Courts and the majesty of law and prevent any interference in the administration justice. Learned counsel for the parties present before us do not dispute and rightly so that whenever a Court of record records its findings about the conduct of an advocate while finding him guilty of committing Contempt of Court and desires or refers the matter to be considered by the Bar Council concerned, appropriate action should be initiated by the Bar Council concerned in accordance with law with a view to maintain the dignity of the Courts and to uphold the majesty of law and professional standards and etiquette. Nothing is more destructive of public confidence in the administration of justice than incivility, rudeness of disrespectful conduct on the part of a counsel towards the Court or disregard by the Court of the privileges of the Bar. In case the Bar Council, even after receiving “reference” from the Court, falls to take action against the advocate concerned, this Court might consider invoking its powers u/s 38 of the Act by sending for the record of the proceedings from the Bar Council and passing appropriate orders. Of course, the appellate powers u/s 38 would be available to this Court only and not to the High Courts. We, however, hope that such a situation would not arise.

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SUPREME COURT OF INDIA DIVISION BENCH ( Before : Sujata V. Manohar, J; M. M. Punchhi, J ) S.K. ARSED ALI AND ANOTHER — Appellant Vs. S.K. FAZLE HAKANI — Respondent Civil Appeal No’s. 5457-57A of 1985 Decided on : 20-11-1996

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