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Case Commentary: Roma Banerjee v/s Ushapati Banerjee

Case Commentary

Roma Banerjee v/s Ushapati Banerjee

Factual Matrix Of The Case
The petitioner is Roma Banerjee and the respondent is  Ushapati Banerjee. The case is filed by Roma against Ushapati. Ushapati Banerjee is an advocate practising in the Sessions Court. Mrs Roma Banerjee approached Mrs Ushapati Banerjee to run a case as a prosecutor against Mrs Anjali and her husband for cheating on her. The case was closed by giving conviction to both the accused persons. The convicted persons decided to go for an appeal.

The respondent said to Mrs Roma Banerjee that, for the appeal, a senior advocate should be engaged and insisted her to pay Rs. 75/- to him. She too paid the said amount to the advocate. After that, for so long days, she didn't hear about the status of the appeal case running in the court. So Mrs Roma Banerjee started to enquire about the status of the case and came to know that the accused persons approached her advocate for settlement and compromise and Mrs Ushapati Banerjee (advocate) also accepted that. At the time when the petitioner came to know this, the appeal case was almost over by the disposal of the case.

She also came to know that her advocate got Rs. 1500 from the accused in three instalments and when the advocate got Rs. 500 in the third instalment, the case was disposed. But Mrs Roma Banerjee was not aware of those compromises and there was no Senior Advocate engaged in the appeal case.

So, Mrs Roma Banerjee (petitioner) filed a case against Mrs Ushapati Banerjee (respondent) under the LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ACT, 1879, that her advocate did not engage any senior advocate for the abovesaid appeal case and allegedly got Rs. 75/- from her and also got bribe (Rs. 1500/-) from the opposite party for compromise and thus he retained all the money he got with himself.

Substantial Questions Of Law
  1. Whether the payment of Rs. 75/- by the petitioner to the respondent is true?
  2. Whether the compromise to dispose of the appeal case happened without the knowledge of the petitioner?
  3. Whether the engagement of a Senior Advocate necessary in the appeal case?
  4. The respondent got Rs. 1500/- from the accused for compromising. Whether this statement is true?

Legal Provisions
  1. Section 13 of Legal Practitioners Act, 1879.
  2. Section 14 Legal Practitioners Act, 1879.
  3. Section 8 Legal Practitioners Act, 1879.

Petitioner�s Contention (Mrs Roma Banerjee)
The petitioner contended that the respondent (advocate) has asked Rs. 75/- to engage a senior advocate for the appeal case but he did not engage any senior advocate for the case as he said. He also got bribe of Rs. 1500 from the accused for compromise. He got Rs. 500 in three instalments. At the last instalment when he got the last Rs. 500, the appeal case was about to dismiss.

The petitioner said that she came to know about the compromise process done by her advocate at a later point in time. So, it is clear that the compromise was done by the advocate without the knowledge of the petitioner and in the absence of the petitioner. The advocate retained all the money with himself which he got from the petitioner for engaging a senior advocate and from the accused for compromising the appeal case. Therefore, the petitioner pleaded that Mr Ushapati Banerjee should be made liable for his misconduct under the Legal Practitioners Act of 1879.

Respondent�s Contention
The respondent contended that the payment of Rs.75 made by the petitioner was a put-up story. He also contended that the assurance of engaging a senior advocate for the appeal case was merely a lie said by the petitioner. He said that, the statement, said by the petitioner, about the misappropriation of Rs.1500/- from the accused is also a false statement. The Advocate (respondent) said that the petitioner is filing this suit on him to negative his reputation and to add a black mark to his career document. Therefore, the respondent said that the case filed by the petitioner is invalid and pleaded the Court to dismiss the case.

Judicial Interpretations That Deduced The Verdict
In B Nithyananda Mathur vs Bala Ram and others[1] case, Ramji Lal filed a suit against the plaintiff through Babu Ram, a vakil, praying to take action against the plaintiff due to his professional misconduct. The case was sent to Learned District Judge and after investigations, it was ultimately reported that there was no misconduct on the side of the plaintiff and they both have tricked the plaintiff with the purview of filing this false accusation. The Court held that since there was no evidence provided for the misconduct of the plaintiff, he cannot be charged under Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners Act. So, the plaintiff is being acquitted.

In Emperor vs Sathyendra Nath Bose[2] case, a case was filed against Sathyendra Nath Bose, an advocate, under Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners Act, for his professional misconduct. He has registered a clerk named Khalilur Rahman whose card was cancelled by the District Magistrate. When he was questioned by the court in the subsequent legal proceedings, it was found that Bose was not aware of the card cancellation incident. So, he said that he registered Rahman as a clerk with bona fide intentions. He also argued that Rahman's card was cancelled due to his bona fide misconception. So the court held that Mr Bose could not be charged under Section 13 of Legal Practitioners Act as his act was merely by good nature.

Interpretation Put Forth By The Court

The Court heard both contentions. The Court fixed a date for hearing this case. Meanwhile, the court examined the petitioner and the Counsel appeared for the accused in the appeal case regarding the payment of Rs.75 and Rs.1500 respectively. As a result of the investigation, the evidence given by them to the court was against the respondent (Mr Ushapati Banerjee). On the fixed date of the hearing, the respondent did not come. Later, the Court fixed three dates subsequently based on the pleading of the respondent asking for time to compromise with the petitioner (Mrs Roma Banerjee) in order to discharge the suit filed on his misconduct. The Court allowed for the first two times and disallowed for the third time.

Verdict Of The Case:
Since the respondent could not prove that the suit on him regarding his misconduct is false and he also could not compromise the petitioner, the Court decided to punish Mr Ushapati Banerjee (respondent) under Section 13 of the Legal Practitioners Act of 1879.

Critical Comments On The Case
Firstly, I would like to point out the seven lamps of advocacy that involve Honesty, Courage, Wit, Industry, Eloquence, Fellowship and Judgement and the main lamp is Tact. The first and foremost lamp of advocacy is Honesty which is lacking in Banerjee's case. Honesty is an important personality for an advocate that he/she is bound to show towards his/her client.

But here, in this case, Mr Ushapati Banerjee, betrayed his client Mrs Roma Banerjee by doing acts for compromise without the knowledge of his client and cheated her by giving his words regarding engaging the senior advocate for the appeal case. In the case filed by Mrs Roma Banerjee on the advocate, he did not follow the rules, that is, he did not attend the three hearings scheduled by the court, being an advocate himself. These acts show the range of his responsibility and passion towards his advocacy profession. According to me, the judgement given in this case was fair enough and I have no dissenting opinion on the judgement given by the court. Truth always triumphs is clearly proved in this case.

In B Nithyananda Mathur vs Bala Ram and others case, the advocate had done nothing wrong and he obeyed the ethics of his profession and so he was acquitted. In Emperor vs Sathyendra Nath Bose case, since the advocate has done the act with good intention and with pure heart, his act was not considered as misconduct and he too got acquitted. Finally, I conclude by saying that there must always be truth towards the client and as an advocate, we all should have sociable behaviour and helping tendency without cheating and betraying our clients.

  1. AIR 1939 All 168
  2. AIR 1937 Cal 408

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Neya Dharshini S
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: JU352138204091-4-0623

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