Considering an extra-ordinary situation when the State Brief appointed for a convict to prosecute the Criminal Appeal filed by him against conviction and sentence under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code expressed his desire to withdraw from the case on the ground that he has difficulty to conduct the case “by telling lies in the Court”, the High Court of Kerala in a recent order has held that it was not for a State Brief or a lawyer to tell lies in Court while defending an accused and that he is duty bound to fearlessly uphold the interests of his client by all fair and honourable means and present the case for and on behalf of the accused with reference to the materials on record.
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Justices K.T Sankaran and Babu Mathew P. Joseph said:
“It is not for the State Brief to express his view to the Court about the falsity or otherwise of the case of the accused. It is also not the duty of the State Brief or any lawyer to tell lies before Court while defending an accused.A State Brief or a lawyer appearing for the accused is entitled to and he is duty bound to present the case for and on behalf of the accused with reference to the materials on record. He need not and should not tell lies. The counsel is expected to bring to the notice of the Court the facts which will go to the benefit of the accused.”
The Bench also said, “An advocate shall fearlessly uphold the interests of his client. An advocate shall not ordinarily withdraw from engagements, once accepted, without sufficient cause and unless reasonable and sufficient notice is given to the client. It shall be the duty of an advocate fearlessly to uphold the interests of his client by all fair and honourable means without regard to any unpleasant consequences to himself or any other.”
The Court added that an advocate ‘shall defend a person accused of a crime regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, bearing in mind that his loyalty is to the law which requires that no man should be convicted without adequate evidence’.
Though the Bench said that State Brief was not justified in withdrawing from the case on the ground that he has difficulty to conduct the case “by telling lies in the Court”, taking in to account the unwillingness expressed by the State Brief to appear in the case, it directed the Registry of the High Court of Kerala to appoint another State Brief.
The Court also issued a direction that the name of the State Brief shall not be mentioned in the judgment and in law journals in order to ‘avoid embarrassment to the counsel and also not to discourage him.’
Read the Judgment here.