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Lawyer Moves Kerala Court Against Alleged Leak Of Privileged Communication To Media By Police

Hannah M Varghese
27 April 2022 4:11 PM GMT
Lawyer Moves Kerala Court Against Alleged Leak Of Privileged Communication To Media By Police
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The lawyer who had previously approached the Bar Council of Kerala seeking appropriate legal action against the police officers who allegedly leaked privileged communication between lawyers and their clients in the cases involving actor Dileep has now moved the Sessions Court with his grievance. The Bar Council had on April 24, unanimously decided to take up the issue with the...

The lawyer who had previously approached the Bar Council of Kerala seeking appropriate legal action against the police officers who allegedly leaked privileged communication between lawyers and their clients in the cases involving actor Dileep has now moved the Sessions Court with his grievance. 

The Bar Council had on April 24, unanimously decided to take up the issue with the State Government.

Advocate V. Sethunath has filed a petition before the Additional Special Sessions Court (SPE/CBI) - III, Ernakulam today aggrieved by the alleged revelation of calls between Senior Advocate B. Raman Pillai who represents Dileep in most cases and Dileep's brother Anoop to the media and the further investigation done by the Police on the facts revealed out of such privileged communication.

In his petition, he has averred that both online and offline media have published the said communication between lawyers and their clients as stories on a day to day basis.

According to him, the illegalities committed by the officers of the Kerala Police in such revelation are as follows:-

(i) The privileged communication between Lawyer and clients obtained by playing fraud using external devices in the lawyer's office

(ii) Such privileged communication, which is obtained as a part of the investigation in a crime is revealed to the media and public to demoralise a Designated Senior Advocate and other lawyers

(iii) Investigation is conducted on the facts revealed from such communication between lawyers and clients obtained by a third party

It has also been submitted that the public is ridiculing the advocate offices on the revelation of privileged communication. Even teaching a witness who had gone to the Advocates office voluntarily is a privileged communication, he argued. 

"No authority can question and conduct enquiry on the privileged communication between clients and Advocates. The police even went to the next step to question the witness to conduct enquiry about the privileged communication between lawyer and his client. No Courts or authorities can conduct enquiry regarding the privileged communication protected by the Indian Evidence Act, 1872," reads the plea. 

Further, it was asserted that the Attorney-Client Privilege is one of the oldest privileges for confidential communications and that the Indian Judiciary has repeatedly established that by assuring confidentiality, the privilege encourages clients to make full and frank disclosures to their attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation.

Privileged communication refers to the confidential conversations or interactions between two parties who are in a legally recognized protected relationship which cannot be leaked to any third party, not even in the Court. The attorney-client privilege is a crown jewel of the legal profession, it was argued. 

The petitioner pointed out that it is a statutory obligation under Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act for an advocate to not disclose without the consent of the client any-

(i) communication to him by the client or vice versa,

(ii) contents or conditions of a document, and

(iii) The advice given to the client, which was obtained or given in the course and for the 'purpose of such employment'. This phrase means that no privilege attaches to communication with an attorney consulted as a friend. This obligation continues even after employment has ceased. This encapsulates the rule of "once privileged always privileged".

Therefore, according to the petitioner, filing reports based on the facts revealed from privileged communication and conducting investigation on the facts based on such communication amount to grave illegality and amounts an offence under Section 219 of the I.P.C.

It has been contended that the Police officers knew that as per law such communication was privileged and could not be acted upon by virtue of Sections 126 to 129 of the Indian Evidence Act. Yet they acted upon such communication knowing fully well that it is contrary to law. The petitioner asserted that since they were responsible police officers, they cannot claim ignorance of law.

As such, the plea stated that the Special Sessions Court has ample power in conducting an enquiry on this application and it was prayed that an enquiry should be conducted and appropriate legal action be taken against the responsible police officers. He has also sought a direction to the police officers not to conduct an investigation based on the privileged communication between lawyer and the client.

Case Title: Adv. V. Sethunath v. State of Kerala 

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