High court not authorised to debar Anand, Khan: lawyers

August 21st, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 21 (IANS) The Delhi High Court’s decision to debar two senior advocates for trying to bribe the key witness in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case has not been welcomed by the lawyers community, which says the high court is not authorised to prevent a lawyer from appearing in court. “I cannot comment of the decision given by the high court. It is not the jurisdiction of the high court to debar or cancel the license of a lawyer. Only the Bar Council of India can take a decision in the matter,” K.K. Menon, chairman of the Delhi Bar Council, told IANS.

“The matter (the lawyers trying to bribe the key witness) is pending before the bar council and it will give a decision in the next hearing,” he added.

The division bench of Justices Manmohan Sarin and Madan B. Lokur debarred R.K. Anand, the defence lawyer, and I.U. Khan, the special public prosecutor, from practising for four months and slapped them with a fine of Rs.2,000 each after the authenticity of a undercover operation conducted by NDTV was established.

The sting, conducted last year, showed the advocates asking Sunil Kulkarni to change his testimony to favour Sanjeev Nanda, accused of mowing down six people on Lodhi Road in central Delhi in the early hours of Jan 10, 1999.

Senior lawyer Lalit Bhasin said: “This jurisdiction vests with the Bar Council of India. Generally the Bar takes cognizance of the conduct or misconduct of lawyer in accordance with the Advocate Act and the Bar Council of India’s rule.”

While senior lawyer Kamini Jaiswal agreed that the high court did not have the power to debar the lawyers, she called for stringent punishment for those engaging in malpractices.

“A constitutional bench of the Supreme Court has given the power to debar or cancel the license of a lawyer to the Bar Council of India. But what is peculiar is that so much time has passed but the Bar has not taken any decision in this regard.

“Moreover the punishment of debarring the lawyers from practice for four months and a fine of Rs.2,000 is highly inadequate. The reputation of the lawyers have taken a beating after the expose and a stringent punishment is called for the guilty,” Jaiswal said.

Bhasin, however, passed off the expose as a one-off incident.

“The expose is an aberration. The role of legal profession has not taken any beating, as right from the freedom struggle to the current cabinet, the lawyers are contributing largely in the public life,” Bhasin said.

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