The people or clients have a right to know about the conduct of their counsel, whom they are paying fees with an expectation for justice, the Commission observed.
The Central Information Commission has directed Bar Council of Delhi to report/publish the cases of professional misconduct, both proved and not proved, at regular intervals or as and when the decision was taken, in compliance of Section 4 (1) of RTI Act in their official website or journal or by any other means of publication convenient to it.
Information Commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu, while disposing of a Second Appeal filed by one Tapan Chaudhary, observed that, client who complained in particular and all clients in general do have right to information about decisions of the Bar Council on complaints so that they can properly exercise their expression in taking cases to an advocate of his choice, after he exercised that choice with full knowledge about what practical ethics are.
Mr. Tapan Chaudhary had sought an information with regard to an order by Bar Council of Delhi wherein Advocates as Directors of the company have been allowed to file civil suits. He also wanted to know whether such an Order could be reported in print and broadcast media. Having received no information, he filed first and second appeal. The Commission has directed the PIO of the Bar Council to furnish para wise information to him within 15 days.
PEOPLE IN GENERAL AND ADVOCATES IN PARTICULAR SHOULD KNOW HOW MISCONDUCT WILL BE DEALT WITH.
Observing that people in general has a right to know whether these professional standards are being maintained and if not and the action taken by the professional body, the commission observed: “before Bar Council, person complaining is not seeking any remedy for himself, but trying to point out misconductand asking the professional body to establish and protect the standards in the profession. Thecomplainant is in fact serving the interests of profession by pointing out wrongdoers. If proved,his complaint will help the Bar Council to remove the wrongful elements and clean theprofession. Hence it is not a dispute between two persons for some benefit or penalty. Thepeople in general and advocates in particular should know how misconduct will be dealt with.”
The commission observed: “ Clientwho complained in particular and all clients in generaldo have right to information about decisions of the Bar Council on complaints so that they canproperly exercise their expression in taking cases to an advocate of his choice, after heexercised that choice with full knowledge about what practical ethics are.Not only that, youngadvocates or fresh law graduates or students of law should know what ethics are, how anadvocate should conduct himself and what misconduct is. Hence there is a necessity to reportand media to publish. It is in public interest.”
CLIENTS HAVE RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR COUNSEL’S CONDUCT
The Commission further observed: “Appellant’s demand for a direction from the Commission to the bar council to update their decisions on professional misconduct of bar members from time to time is justified. The people or clients have a right to know about the conduct of their counsel, whom they are paying fees with an expectation for justice. Advocacy is a service which comes under Consumer Protection Act. The Bar Council of Delhi is a public authority, which has a responsibility of protecting the ethical standards of the advocates. If a client complains against the professional misconduct of advocate, the bar council has a duty to examine it and to pronounce its decision not just to the complainant. Such a decision has to be in there public domain. Transparency requirement does not allow Bar Council of Delhi to keep its decisions secret. Any public authority has a mandatory duty to disclose reasons for its quasi-judicial or administrative decisions to the affected persons as per Section 4(1)(c) of RTI Act voluntarily. Bar Council of Delhi being a public body has an obligation to report its decisions along with reasons. Every professional body like Medical Council of India, Press Council of India and Bar Council of India has to report its decisions.”
The Commission also added that, the Bar Council has to publish these reports because generally entire people are positively affected by the good conduct to some extent and harmfully affected by misconduct of the advocates, and if the Bar Council punishes them or brings out genuineness of service, it will neutralize the impact.
Read the order here.