The Bombay High Court has warned lawyers against resorting to dishonesty or wrong tactics while presenting their cases, and said such behaviour can be expected from litigants but not from members of the Bar.
A division bench of justices A S Oka and A A Sayed got irked when a lawyer, while arguing a petition filed by four persons seeking to quash a case registered against him, pointed out to the court that Justice Oka had in 1997 given legal advice to the company, Vidyut Metallics Pvt Ltd, in which one of the petitioners was a director.
The lawyer submitted to the bench copies of the letters and said, “Since this petition is coming up for the first time before this bench, I felt it appropriate to point this out to the court.”
The advocate, appearing for the complainant company (Vidyut Metallics), however, told the court that earlier a contempt appeal filed by the same petitioners was heard and dismissed by this bench, and the issue of Justice Oka having given legal advice was not pointed out then.
The court then questioned the petitioners and their lawyer as to why these letters were not pointed out earlier and why they were submitted now.
“What made the petitioners point out these letters now? This is being done just to embarrass the court and make it look like we are being dishonest. Judges are also human. We may also err. How do you expect someone to remember what happened in 1997,” Justice Oka said yesterday.
The petitioners’ lawyer explained that the letters were not traceable when the contempt appeal petition was heard last year, but have now been traced by the petitioners from the office godown.
To this, Justice Oka said, “What made the petitioners go search for it in the godown? We can understand litigants resorting to such mischiefs but members of the Bar (lawyers) cannot resort to such tactics and dishonesty. Be honest.”
“Members of the Bar are obligated to be honest.”
The court then posted the matter for hearing on August 22 and directed the petitioners’ counsel Ashok Mundargi to remain present before it on that day.