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Indian Case Summary

M. Veerabhadra Rao vs Tek Chand on 18 October, 1984 – Case Summary

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In the case of M. Veerabhadra Rao vs Tek Chand on 18 October, 1984, the Supreme Court of India was faced with a complex issue of professional misconduct involving an advocate, M. Veerabhadra Rao (the appellant), and his client, Tek Chand (the respondent). The case revolved around the attestation of an affidavit that led to the commission of fraud and damage to the respondent.

Facts of the Case

Tek Chand, the respondent, filed a complaint against M. Veerabhadra Rao, an advocate, under Section 35 of the Advocates Act, 1961 before the Bar Council of the State of Andhra Pradesh. The respondent alleged that M. Ram Mohan Rao, an advocate with whom the appellant was working as a junior advocate, was a tenant of a house situated at Rashtrapathi Road, Secunderabad, of which he was the owner. This house was agreed to be sold for Rs. 65,000 to Premlata, daughter of Shri Hastimal Jain, and Rs. 10,000 was paid as earnest money. However, the vendee did not pay the amount, and the respondent alleged that he had cancelled the agreement for sale.

The respondent further alleged that to get the sale deed registered, an application purporting to be in his name with his signature forged thereon was prepared. An affidavit was also prepared on a stamp paper of Rs. 2 with the signature of the respondent forged thereon. This affidavit was attested by the appellant as he was an advocate authorised to attest affidavits. On the strength of the forged documents, an income-tax clearance certificate was obtained in the name of the respondent, and the sale deed was registered.

Issues Raised

The main issue raised in the case was whether the appellant’s act of attesting the affidavit, knowing that the respondent had not sworn the affidavit in his presence nor was it signed in his presence by the respondent, constituted professional misconduct.

Court’s Observations

The Disciplinary Committee of the State Bar Council found that the appellant advocate attested the affidavit knowing that the respondent-complainant had not sworn the affidavit in his presence nor was it signed in his presence by the respondent. Therefore, this act of attestation of the affidavit giving misleading information was improper and came within the mischief of professional misconduct and contrary to the norms of professional etiquette.

The Committee further held that on account of this misconduct on the part of the appellant, an income-tax clearance certificate was obtained, and therefore, the appellant was guilty of professional misconduct. The Committee imposed a punishment of reprimand on the appellant.

The appellant filed an appeal before the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India, which affirmed the order made by the State Committee imposing the punishment of reprimand and conveying a warning to the appellant that he should be careful in future in such matters.

The Supreme Court, dismissing the appeal and enhancing the punishment, held that the appellant was guilty of gross professional misconduct. The Court directed that the appellant should be suspended from practice for a period of five years.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the high standards of professional conduct and etiquette expected from advocates, who are officers of the court and privileged members of the community. The case underscores the importance of honesty and integrity in the legal profession and the serious consequences that can ensue when these values are compromised.