Brief of the case:
- The Hon’ble Delhi HC in the above cited case held that threating letter issued by professional with reminder of unpaid professional dues is unethical conduct which is not expected by members of a civil society to be committed by a professional like that of Chartered Accountant who is looked upon by the society as a dignified professional.
- Therefore, such an act is clear case of professional misconduct though specifically not enumerated in the concerned provision.
Facts of the case:
- One Mr. S.K Garg made a complaint against Mr. Mr. Mahesh Kumar Gupta, Chartered Accountant (respondent) that Mr. Mahesh was engaged by him to file his personal and his family members income tax returns. He claimed that he paid professional fees to Mr. Mahesh as when called upon to pay.
- He complained to the council of ICAI that a bill of Rs. 3.8 lacs was raised accompanied by a threatening written communication which was alleged to be unethical the containing a threat to initiate legal action
- The Disciplinary Committee of the ICAI after studying the case opined that it was strange that the respondent would raise a bill for 19 years services rendered in the year 2004 and found no explanation from the respondent as to why for each year as and when professional servicers were rendered a bill was not raised.
- With respect to the written communication appended by way of note to the bill, the Committee opined that the language was threatening and not expected of a Chartered Accountant who is looked upon by the society as a dignified professional.
- For such threating communication ,Committee found Mr. Mahesh guilty of professional misconduct and recommended to impose penalty as contemplated by Section 21(6)(b) of the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949.
Held by Hon’ble Delhi HC:
- HC observed that Part I of the First Schedule enumerates conducts deemed to be professional misconduct. The use of the word ‘deemed’ in Part I of the First Schedule would make it clear that the professional misconducts enumerated therein are inclusive.
- Thus, even if the act not specifically enumerated will be termed as professional misconduct if it is a conduct which any reasonable member of the society would disapprove.
- Therefore, a professional who threatens a client would certainly commit a misconduct because the act is of a kind which is not expected by members of a civil society to be committed by a professional.
- As such, the court concurred with the view taken by the Council and thus dispose of the Reference levying penalty upon Mr. Mahesh as envisaged by Section 21(6)(b) of the Chartered Accounts Act, 1949.