8 April 2023 6:30 AM GMT
What a lawyer does in his personal life cannot be conflated with acts in his capacity as an advocate, the Bombay High Court recently observed in case of misconduct under the Advocate’s Act 1961. The court highlighted severe consequences of even temporary suspension on an advocate’s future prospects and asked the Bar Council of India to expeditiously decide Advocate Amresh Sharma’s ...
What a lawyer does in his personal life cannot be conflated with acts in his capacity as an advocate, the Bombay High Court recently observed in case of misconduct under the Advocate’s Act 1961.
The court highlighted severe consequences of even temporary suspension on an advocate’s future prospects and asked the Bar Council of India to expeditiously decide Advocate Amresh Sharma’s interim application to stay his suspension by the state bar council.
“Even an order of suspension of a few months, and indeed the very imposition or handing down of that order, has very severe adverse consequences to an advocate, his standing, his reputation and perhaps most of all his future prospects,” the division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale observed.
“There is a distinction to be drawn between what an Advocate does in his capacity as an advocate and what he does when he goes about his routine affairs and daily life as any other person may do. The two are not to be conflated,” the court added.
On January 27, 2023, the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa had suspended Sharma’s license after a disciplinary committee found him guilty of professional misconduct under section 35 of the Advocate’s Act for threatening a builder.
Sharma filed an appeal with the BCI which, he said, won’t be taken up for three-four months and his suspension would continue to be operational till then. Therefore, he approached the HC to take up the matter and quash the complaint in a plea under Article 226.
Sharma said that he had purchased a new flat from the builder MB Shinde in 2014. As he was handed over possession of a smaller apartment than what was promised, he filed a criminal complaint and an FIR was ordered against the builder.
However, in March 2022, the police submitted a report to the magistrate calling it a ‘civil dispute’ and as a counterblast the builder approached the state bar council and accused Sharma of threatening him over a phone call. Sharma alleged that he wasn’t given the opportunity to adduce evidence to establish the falsity of allegations against him.
The court observed that Sharma was justified in seeking a direction that the stay application in appeal must be heard on a priority basis and that the appeal itself should be disposed of at the earliest possible.
It refused to comment on the merits of the case because the appeal was pending. However, the court requested the BCI to decide the stay application as expeditiously as possible and preferably before 28th April 2023. And if the stay is not granted then the appeal be decided no later than 12th May 2023. “We say this because the sentence is for six months and runs from approximately from 17th March 2023,” the bench said in the order.
“It certainly should not happen that the appeal is rendered infructuous because the sentence is already served out. That will leave remaining the stigma of the sentence itself, a matter of considerable concern to the Petitioner,” the bench observed.
The court clarified that it hasn’t issued Rule on the plea but only deferred consideration of interim relief. “We make it clear to all concerned that if the Interim Application in appeal is not even being considered, then Mr Mathews Nedumpara will be at liberty to renew his application before us for interim relief.”
Case Title: Amresh Sharma v. Bar Council of India & Ors.
Click Here To Read/Download The Order