The author of this blog is Aadya Jaroliya, BA.LL.B. 4-th year student at Jagran Lakecity University.
Saga of Mahipal Singh Rana’s Case i.e, Mahipal Singh Rana vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (AIR 2016 SC 3302)
Mahipal Singh Rana vs State of UP case came into focus in the 266th law commission as this case aroused a major issue of misconduct by a senior advocate not only affecting the judge but also the Mwhole legal profession and judiciary. Facts of the case illustrates that Advocate Mahipal Singh Rana who was enrolled as an advocate in the UP-State Bar Council, during a hearing of the case, threatened a presiding civil judge Shri Onkar Singh Yadav and literally challenged his authority as a judicial officer and the authority of the court of law. He lost his temperament when the said judgment was passed on order against him and hence, threatened the Hon’ble Civil Judge stating that he will make sure that the respective judge will no longer remain as a judge in the judiciary of Etah. He also openly challenged the authority of the whole judiciary by disclosing the fact that already 15-20 cases have been filed against him and thus, he is not afraid of anyone! Such facts essentially construe as a case of serious professional misconduct and thus such default on the part of advocate also directly lowers the decorum of the judge, the dignity of the profession and adversely affects the functioning of the judiciary. Such an incident did not happen for only once but again in another case advocate Mahipal Singh Rana again showed such aggressive and disrespectful attitude towards the sitting judge. Repeatedly, Mahipal Singh hindered the court proceeding by his aggressive and hostile behaviors, challenging the authority of the pressing judges and violating the basic discipline of the judges of the profession. Aforestated facts and details accounts of the alleged misconduct were included by the said Judge Shri Onkar Singh Yadav in his compliant, being a witness himself he also represented before the Hon’ble High Court, urging for a strict action against such misconduct by an advocate is concerned.
In the light of the above-stated facts, the question arises why the local UP state bar council remained a silent spectator and allowed such an advocate to continue to terrorize, browbeat and bully the judicial officers? It is important to add here that under the Advocates Act,1961 section 6(c) commands to every Bar Council itself having a primary authority to determine and dispose of all cases of misconduct against any advocates existing on its roll. Thus, whenever any respective Bar Council fails to act or check the issues related to the misconduct of Advocates on its role, they need to be made statutorily liable for such grave substantive as well as procedural lapses. In its judgment the local High court at Allahabad held the said advocate guilty and made the following observations; "We thus punish him underSection12of the Contempt of Courts Act1971, with two months ’imprisonment and also impose fine of Rs.2000/-on him. In case non-payment offline he will undergo further a period of imprisonment of two weeks.
Further, the stubborn and habitually delinquent advocate Mahipal Singh filed as an appeal challenging the authority of the local High Court. In its verdict, the apex court upheld the conviction and the direction given by the Allahabad High Court that the advocate shall not be permitted to appear in courts in District Etah until he purges himself of contempt. The Court also held that under Section 24A of the Advocates Act, the enrolment of the contemporary Advocate will stand suspended for two years. The Court also said that, as a disciplinary measure for proved misconduct, the license of the contemnor will remain suspended for further five years. The Court has however set aside the imprisonment imposed on the Advocate keeping in mind his advanced age14. Thus, this case stands as a glaring example of the existing professional misconduct in the legal profession in India in recent times.
The dawn of the Legal Profession in our country could be seen in the Indian High Courts Act, 1861 (commonly known as the Charter Act) which authorized the establishment of the High Courts under the Letters Patent and those Letters Patent empowered the High Courts to make rules for enrolment of Advocates and attorneys who were also known as solicitors. In the early days three Acts, namely, the Legal Practitioners Act, 1879 (18 of 1879), the Bombay Pleaders Act, 1920 (17 of 1920) and the Indian Bar Councils Act, 1926 (38 of 1926) relating to legal Practitioners were enacted.
Our judicial system is enshrined in the Constitution with powers to dispense justice, including their constitution and jurisdictions, and with powers to make their own rules. The Supreme Court has been described as a court of record and conferred with all powers including the powers to punish for its contempt under article 129 of the Constitution. The power to frame rules, subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament and with the approval of the President, has been conferred on the Supreme Court under article 145 of the Constitution.
The full bench judgment of the Jharkhand High Court in the case of KK Jha “Kamal” & Anr. v. Pankaj Kumar & Anr, the full bench judgment of the Allahabad High Court in the case of Sadhna Upadhyay v. State of U.P, and the recent judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Mahipal Singh Rana v. State of UP, are pointers in relation to professional misconduct of lawyers that ultimately resulted in a direction by the Supreme Court asking the Law Commission of India to go into all relevant aspects relating to the regulation of the legal profession in consultation with all concerned at an early date.
Law Commission’s Initiative
The Commission invited suggestions from all stakeholders by putting on its website a notice dated 22nd July, 2016, as to how the system could be improved. The attention of the Bar Council of India was drawn to the said notice by writing a letter on 3rd August, 2016. Simultaneously, an email was sent to all the State Bar Councils, Supreme Court Bar Association and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association. On the same day, the Chairman addressed a letter to the Chief Justices of all the High Courts, requesting them to use their good offices to give wide publicity to the endeavor of the Commission amongst the various associations of Advocates’ (in whatever name they exist), with a request to send their response directly to the Commission by email at the earliest.
Further, in relation to a regulatory mechanism, it is necessary to address the mushrooming of bar associations right from the Taluka level, up to the apex bodies also requires a regulatory mechanism which includes their recognition and control by the bar council. This is obviously coupled with special emphasis of not only controlling the advocates but the collective actions of bar associations that have a local and even a nationwide implication on issues that are concerned with proceedings of the court and with regard to the organization of lawyers entering into other fields of activities. Towards this, the measures of punishments, the inclusion of other types of misconducts and the disciplinary control with its effective mechanism, both reformatory and deterrent, deserves to be introduced. This has become necessary as the present law is gradually losing its effectiveness due to lack of appropriate empowerment. The standards of professional ethics and behavior, the training of lawyers and facets of continuing legal education are other areas as well that require a passionate consideration.
Responses by Law Commission of India
Based on the facts in the matter of Mahipal Singh Rana, the Apex Court highlighted the dismal state of the regulatory mechanism governing lawyers with emphasis on an urgent need to review the provisions of the Advocates Act dealing with the regulatory mechanism for the legal profession and other incidental issues, in consultation with all concerned.
At the very inception, the general tenor of the comments received to point out the lack of defined regulatory objectives and principles in the Advocates Act itself. As the regulatory mechanism for legal profession in India still abides by the principles of ‘self-regulation’, an overwhelming number of responses point out the failure of the existing mechanism and hence have realized the need for urgent reform required. Regarding specific provisions, a number of responses have been highlighted throwing light on the existence of faulty/unsatisfactory definitions such as the definition of advocate (which does not extend to the law firms, partnerships, body corporate etc.). Additionally, the general tenor of the responses have highlighted that at present, there exists no definition of professional or other misconduct which has resulted in the arbitrary usage of Section 35 (Punishment of advocates for misconduct).
 AIR 2007 Jhar 67.
 2009 (4) ADJ 434
 AIR 2016 SC 3302