Delhi High Court: In a case wherein, a petition was filed to seek quashing of FIR registered against the law intern who projected himself as a proxy counsel on the instructions of his Advocate, a Single Judge Bench of Anish Dayal, J. quashed the FIR registered against the law intern and further observed that the law interns who were merely students should be counselled, properly informed, and instructed instead of registering FIRs against them.
The petitioner was a law student and after completion of two years of LLB course, he joined an Advocate who was practicing before various District Courts in Delhi, as an intern for two months. The petitioner used to accompany the Advocate in day-to-day Court hearings to gain experience. He always attended Court in a white shirt and black pants but never wore Advocate robes and never represented himself as an Advocate. However, in August 2022, the Advocate was out of station and his client was not well due to which there was no one available to attend the proceedings before the Court. The Advocate gave him instructions to appear before the Court as an intern and the petitioner informed the Court that neither the Advocate nor the client could appear and sought an adjournment on their behalf.
When the petitioner appeared before the Court and stated so, he was asked by the Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) whether he was appearing as main counsel or proxy and, in his nervousness, he submitted that he was a “proxy”. The petitioner was under the mistaken impression that a “proxy” was somebody who seeks an adjournment and was not sure about the ramifications of the same. The petitioner was not wearing any band or lawyer robes then.
The MM placed the copy of the Court proceedings before the Principal District and Session Judge.The petitioner was not wearing any band or lawyer robes at that point of time, but the Principal District and Session Judge refused to take any action legal action since the petitioner was a law intern. However, in September 2022, upon the complaint of the respondent, the impugned FIR got registered.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court opined that “the issue involved in the present case, was amplified disproportionately before the MM, particularly keeping in mind that the petitioner upon being queried by the learned MM, fairly disclosed that he was an intern and gave his ID card upon being asked to do so. It was not a situation where an intern was wearing the robes of an Advocate or had stated that he was an Advocate. In his understandable nervousness, if the intern stated he was a “proxy”, it would be a bona fide mistake since the word “proxy” was used informally in Courts for an Advocate who was not on record appearing before the Court, but also was not a formalized term of art which would be considered to implicate the law intern for an alleged offence (of impersonation, furnishing false information or dishonesty making a false claim)”.
The Court further opined that there was a scope for increasing the dissemination of the warning to the interns to not pose as lawyers and to not wear the Advocates dress, so as to clearly inform not only the practicing Advocates who should instruct their law interns accordingly but also to the law interns themselves who should be careful as to how they represent their presence in Court. The Court stated that dissemination of such information would reduce such incidents.
The Court observed that “law interns who are merely students should be counselled, properly informed, and instructed, rather than FIRs being registered, merely on this basis. A law intern was a student who was in the process of understanding the practice and procedures of the Court and therefore it was also the duty of the institution to take adequate steps to facilitate their education and training and not simply punish them for these inadvertent acts”.
Thus, the Court disposed of the petition and quashed the FIR registered against the law intern.
[Rajesh Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi), W.P. (Crl) 2583 of 2022, decided on 23-1-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the Petitioner: Advocate Sourabh Gupta;
Advocate Puneet Yadav;
For the Respondent: ASC Rahul Tyagi;
Advocate A. Chogar;
Advocate Jitender Solanki.
*Simranjeet Kaur, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief