It is important to maintain the faith of people in the Judiciary, which is threatened by the acts of some wrongdoers !
H.H. (Adv.) Suresh Kulkarni
1. Advocates should be the means of delivering justice to the victims by fighting against corruption
Advocates are called ‘Officers of the Court’ or the profession of lawyer is called a ‘Nobel Profession’ because they have solved many complex issues by practising law. Many advocates contributed their might to the freedom struggle for the Motherland. Even after Independence, they have made a difference in various fields such as politics and social service.
By exposing corruption of the culprits, many Advocates have ensured justice for the victims and brought the accused before the Court. To give some examples : Advocates brought before the Court the wrongdoings of former Chief Minister Abdul Rehman Antulay, former Chief Minister Shivajirao Nilangekar and the Chief Ministers or Ministers of other States. As a result, these people have had to step down. Former Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi resorted to corrupt practices in getting elected. Her election was therefore challenged in the Allahabad High Court. A petition was filed against corrupt acts committed by a Prime Minister during the election. She had to resign following a Court order. This was due to the contribution of all the advocates.
Advocates also work to compensate victims if the head of a house dies accidentally or if a person gets killed or injured while working for his employer. Sometimes the employees face injustice such as dismissal, suspension or demotion, which is perpetrated by his superiors. Even then, advocates get justice for the victims through lawsuits. Many times when cases are filed by the Police against wrong or innocent people, the victim receives justice through advocates, even if the victim himself is the complainant or the accused. There are many such examples.
2. Advocates in Uttar Pradesh have filed hundreds of false cases under the guise of compensating the victims and thus making money for themselves
A case came up in the Supreme Court on 5.10.2021. The Bar Council of India asked a two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court the action that can be taken against the delinquent advocates. Advocates fight motor accident claims for the injured or the deceased. Claims are made under the Workmen’s Compensation Act. Some of these claims are false. These are not filed by the victims, but by the Advocates after hatching conspiracies with the help of the employees of various insurance companies, doctors, etc., and filing false claims seeking damages.
3. Appointing a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe false cases filed by Advocates
Advocates had filed false cases seeking damages in the name of the alleged victims. The victim or those who were subjected to injustice did not file these, but the Advocates filed false cases under the guise of representing the deceased or the victim, thus earning crores of Rupees. This was noticed by ICICI Insurance and others insurance companies. The case was investigated by a local District Judge. He realised that the lawyers, not the victims, had filed the false claims.
In connection with these false cases, on 7.10.2015 the Allahabad High Court directed that all these be investigated by the SIT. An SIT was then set up as per the Court order. The SIT started investigations into such false cases.
4. SIT asked for criminal cases to be filed against vehicle drivers-owners, lawyers, insurance company officers and doctors, inordinate delay was also found in the investigation
The report of the inquiry into the cases is shocking and very traumatic in view of the Democracy and justice prevalent in India. It was revealed that 1,376 cases were false. Following the inquiry, the SIT recommended filing criminal cases against the drivers-owners of the vehicles, advocates, officers of insurance companies and doctors. Accordingly, criminal cases were filed in 246 of these. Chargesheets were filed in 33 of the 246 criminal cases. When all this information was given to the Court, the Court expressed concern, grief and anguish, because all these cases were exposed in 2015. Of the 1,376 false cases, the SIT was able to complete investigation in only 246 cases. Criminal offences were registered in only 80 cases and chargesheets could be filed in only 33 cases in 6 years. If the SIT and the Police are working at such a slow pace, when will the culprits be punished ?
Another reason for the Court’s strong disapproval is that Advocates who have filed false claims, as well as those against whom criminal cases have been filed, are roaming freely. They will be punished in due course; however, the State Bar Council and the Bar Council of India can revoke the Charter of such Advocates for some period or permanently.
5. Supreme Court summons President of the Bar Council of India for not taking prompt action against corrupt Advocates
The case came up in the Supreme Court. Advocate Praveen Agarwal, appearing on behalf of the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council said, “The Uttar Pradesh Bar Council, which he is representing in this case, is not cooperating”. The Supreme Court regretted hearing this. Advocates filed false lawsuits based on corrupt practices. Not taking prompt action against such Advocates is tantamount to allowing them to indulge in corrupt practices. In this case, the Supreme Court summoned Advocate Madan Kumar Mishra, Chairman of the Bar Council of India. “You get information from the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council and submit a report to us”, the Bench said.
6. Supreme Court expressing displeasure over the functioning of Uttar Pradesh Bar Council
A hearing took place in the Supreme Court on 26th November 2021 regarding the false cases filed by the Advocates for compensation from insurance companies. The Apex Court had sought information from the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council on 5th October 2021; however, no response was received from the Bar Council. No council member was present at the hearing. Earlier, Advocate Praveen Agarwal had said that his party, the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council, was not responding. The Court had asked the Chairman of the Bar Council of India to submit information and sought SIT’s report in the matter. The Apex Court again expressed displeasure over the manner in which the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council was handling the case.
‘We condemn the insensitive role played by the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council in the case where Advocates are the accused. Fraud in this way threatens the credibility of the entire Advocates’ Association. According to the information provided by the SIT set up by the High Court, 92 criminal cases have been registered, and in 55 cases, 28 Advocates are accused, while 32 cases have been investigated and chargesheets filed; however, the charges have not been framed in these cases. Even in cases that are 4 years old, very little progress is being made.
7. Advocates filed cases for suspicious claims amounting to over Rs. 300 crore to get compensation from insurance companies and the Court rejected these
The SIT also noted in its report that the Advocates had filed numerous suspicious claims. Rs 3,76,40,100 had been demanded by the Advocates through these claims. In this regard, the Supreme Court observed that proceedings have been slow due to lack of seriousness of the matter. In 55 cases, 28 Advocates are accused. At the very least, these Advocates should not be allowed to practise any longer, so that they are not able to abuse the law.
The Court directed the President and Secretary of the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council to remain present at the next hearing of the case and to cooperate with the Court. It also asked all the members of the SIT to be present with all the documents, so that further orders can be issued. Earlier, the SIT was asked to submit the names of 28 advocates to the Bar Council of India. What was the ‘modus operandi’ of the accused Advocates of insurance companies ? And how did they file such false cases ? The SIT has been asked to give details of this in the next hearing.
Fortunately, a meeting of the Bar Council of India was held on 19.11.2021. Major action was taken against the 28 accused. Their license to practise law thereafter was suspended. The Bar Council of India also told the SIT that disciplinary action should be taken against them in the next 3 months. The Court rejected 233 suspicious claims that had been filed to embezzle Rs. 300 crore. The Court also said that the matter should be immediately investigated and the names of the culprits be declared. In fact, all this was the responsibility of the Uttar Pradesh Bar Council. They should have done this long ago so as to maintain trust on the Advocates.
8. The importance of maintaining faith in the judiciary
This is traumatic and painful. Since Independence, India has had four pillars of Democracy : The Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and the Press. As of now, the Judiciary is fulfilling its responsibilities well. In fact, the Judiciary is working well despite the lack of sufficient number of judges, lack of infrastructure, huge backlog of millions of cases for adjudication. It is important for them to have the support of Advocates to perform this task; but, if advocates take to corrupt practices, how can the judiciary function ? How can justice be delivered to the victims ? These questions will arise. Therefore, strict action must be taken against such Advocates as per Law. Civil and criminal action should be taken against them, and money should be recovered from them with interest. Only then, trust of the people in the profession of Advocates and Judiciary will be maintained. It is important to maintain faith in the Judiciary, which is threatened by the acts of some wrongdoers.