Karnataka High Court

Karnataka High Court: While deciding the instant petition seeking quashment of complaint against a Senior Advocate, wherein it was alleged that he was not able to obtain orders in favour of client (the complainant); the Bench of Suraj Govindraj, J., held that merely because a client did not succeed in the matter and orders favouring the him were not passed by a Court, the said client cannot make out a case that a fraud which has been committed by the advocate. It was observed that it is for all litigants to understand that an advocate can only make best efforts in the matter and the case would be decided on the basis of merits. “In an Adversarial System like that in our country where one party initiates a litigation against the other, it is bound to happen that one will win and other will lose, which is on the basis of the facts of the case and the law applicable“.

The complainant/respondent alleged that the petitioner who “held out himself to be a very Senior Advocate in Bangalore and having connections with Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court“, had stated to the complainant that he would introduce or refer the complainant’s matter to an Advocate in Delhi and also that the petitioner would appear before the Supreme Court representing the complainant. However, when the matter reached the Supreme Court, it was merely adjourned after hearing and no favourable orders were passed.

The counsel of the complainant/respondent submitted that a huge amount of Rs. 14,60,000 was paid for the matter to be conducted before the Supreme Court, however, upon hearing, the matter was only adjourned. Therefore, offences under Sections 406 and 420 of the Penal Code, 1860, have been committed.

On the contrary, the petitioner’s counsel contended that the petitioner only discharged his duties as an advocate and appeared in the matter along with other counsel before the Supreme Court. It was further argued that the orders that may be passed by the Supreme Court or any other Court are only for the Courts to decide and an advocate can only make an effort to try and get favourable orders and the same cannot amount to an offence under Sections 406 and 420 of the Penal Code, 1860. The petitioner was only discharging his professional functions and there was no inducement as such made by him.

Perusing the contentions, the Court observed that just because an advocate could not secure favourable order for the client, offences under Sections 406 and 420 of the Penal Code, 1860 will not be attracted. It was further observed that if clients start accusing their counsels of committing fraud, just because they could not secure favourable order for the client, then such instances would lead to disastrous consequences. An advocate can only appear and make his best efforts in any matter and no advocate can either state or hold out that he would obtain favourable orders; nor could a client believe that an advocate will definitely obtain favourable orders just because he has paid due fees to the advocate.

It was further observed that whoever the advocate may be, the outcome of a case depends on the facts and the law applicable thereto; hence, payment of fees and the amount of fees, which is a private matter between the client and the advocate, are not relevant for the outcome of the matter.

Holding that the criminal proceedings against the petitioner is an abuse of the process of law, the Court allowed the petition and the complaint was quashed.

[K.S. Mahadevan v. Cyprian Menezes, 2022 SCC OnLine Kar 1539, 09-09-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Petitioner- G. KRISHNAMURTHY, Sr. Counsel A/W Srikanth Patil. K., Adv.

Respondents: Thontadharya R.K. Adv., for P.B. Ajith, Adv. for R1

H. Malatesh, Adv. For R2

*Sucheta Sarkar, Editorial Assistant has prepared this brief.

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