1 In a case, where the attitude of a lawyer is contemptuous, the Court may initiate the proceeding for contempt against the lawyer and restrain him from appearance. In Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India29, the Supreme Court held as under:
“In a given case it may be possible, for the Court or the High Court, to prevent the contemnor Advocate to appear before it till he purges himself of the contempt but that is much different from suspending or revoking his licence or debarring him to practice as an Advocate….”
2 Similarly in Ex Capt. Harish Uppal v. Union of India30, the Supreme Court held as under:
“One last thing which must be mentioned is that the right of appearance in Courts is still within the control and jurisdiction of courts. Section 30 of the Advocates Act has not been brought into force and rightly so. Control of conduct in Court can only be within the domain of courts. Thus, article 145 of the Constitution of India gives to the Supreme Court and section 34 of the Advocates Act gives to the High Court power to frame rules including rules regarding condition on which a person (including an advocate) can practice in the Supreme Court and/or in the High Court and Courts subordinate thereto. Many Courts have framed rules in this behalf. Such a rule would be valid and binding on all. Let the Bar take note that unless self-restraint is exercised, Courts may now have to consider framing specific rules debarring advocates, guilty of contempt and/or unprofessional or unbecoming conduct, from appearing before the courts. Such a rule if framed would not have anything to do with the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Bar Councils. It would be concerning the dignity and orderly functioning of the courts. The right of the advocate to practice envelopes a lot of acts to be performed by him in discharge of his professional duties. Apart from appearing in the Courts he can be consulted by his clients, he can give his legal opinion whenever sought for, he can draft instruments, pleadings, affidavits or any other documents, he can participate in any conference involving legal discussions, he can work in any office or firm as a legal officer, he can appear for clients before an arbitrator or arbitrators etc. Such a rule would have nothing to do with all the acts done by an advocate during his practice. He may even file vakalatnama on behalf of a client even though his appearance inside the Court is not permitted. Conduct in Court is a matter concerning the Court and hence the Bar Council cannot claim that what should happen inside the Court could also be regulated by them in exercise of their disciplinary powers.” (Emphasis Added)
3 In R.K. Anand v. Registrar, Delhi High Court31, the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Delhi High Court debarring the advocate to appear in Courts for a particular period for proved misconduct, observing that unless a person purges himself of contempt or is permitted by the court conviction results in debarring an advocate from appearing in the court even in absence of suspension or termination of the licence to practice. In Amit Chanchal Jha v. High Court of Delhi32, the Supreme Court reiterated the same view upholding the order debarring the advocate from appearance in court on account of his conviction for criminal contempt.
4 The Supreme Court in R.K. Anand v. Registrar, Delhi High Court33, directed that the contemnor shall not do any kind of professional work charging any fees or for any personal considerations for one year from the date of judgment. He shall exclusively devote his professional services to help pro bono the accused who, on account of lack of resources, are not in a position to engage any lawyer to defend themselves and have no means to have their cases effectively presented before the court. The contemnor shall place his professional services at the disposal of the Delhi Legal Services Authority which, in coordination with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Authority, will frame a scheme to avail of the contemnor’s services for attending the case of undefended accused either at the trial or at the appellate stage. The contemnor shall appear in court only in cases assigned to him by the Legal Services Authority. The Delhi Legal Services Authority shall keep a record of all the cases assigned to the contemnor and the result/progress made in those cases. At the end of the year, the Delhi Legal Services Authority shall submit a report to Supreme Court in regard to all the cases done by the contemnor at its instance which shall be placed before the Judges for perusal. At the end of one year it will be open to the contemnor to resume his private law practice. But he shall not leave any case assigned to him by the Legal Services Authority incomplete. He shall continue to do those cases, free of cost, till they come to a close.
5 Keeping in view the aforesaid judgments, most of the High Courts have framed the rules under s.34(1) of the Advocates Act, empowering High Courts as well as the district judges concerned to pass an order debarring an advocate from appearing in court. The relevant parts of the Allahabad High Court Rules, read as under:
“10. Suspension of advocate under C.P.C.:- No advocate who has been debarred or suspended or whose name has been struck off the Roll of Advocates shall be permitted to act as a recognised agent of any party within the meaning of Order III of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
11. Appearance of advocate after committing contempt:- No advocate who has been found guilty of contempt of Court shall be permitted to appear, act or plead in any Court unless he has purged himself of contempt, either by tendering apology which is accepted or by suffering punishment imposed on him or where, in case of an appeal, a stay order is in operation.
[Explanation: For the purpose of purging of contempt under this Rule, the suffering of punishment or payment of fine or both shall not necessarily be sufficient.]”
6. The Madras High Court, on 20 May 2016 published amendments to rules framed under section 34(1) of the Act, 1961. The relevant portions are reproduced below:
“14-A: Power to Debar:-
(vii) An Advocate who is found to have accepted money in the name of a Judge or on the pretext of influencing him; or
(viii) An Advocate who is found to have tampered with the Court record or Court order; or
(ix) An Advocate who browbeats and/or abuses a Judge or Judicial Officer; or
(x) An Advocate who is found to have sent or spread unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations/petitions against a Judicial Officer or a Judge to the Superior Court; or
(xi) An Advocate who actively participates in a procession inside the Court campus and/or involves in gherao inside the Court Hall or holds placard inside the Court Hall; or
(xi) An Advocate who appears in the Court under the influence of liquor;
shall be debarred from appearing before the High Court or Subordinate Courts permanently or for such period as the Court may think fit and the Registrar General shall thereupon report the said fact to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu.
14-B: Power to take action:-
(iv) Where any such misconduct referred to under Rule 14-A is committed by an Advocate before the High Court, the High Court shall have the power to initiate action against the Advocate concerned and debar him from appearing before the High Court and all Subordinate Courts.
(v) Where any such misconduct referred to under Rule 14-A is committed by an Advocate before the Court of Principal District Judge, the Principal District Judge shall have the power to initiate action against the Advocate concerned and debar him from appearing before any Court within such District.
(vi) Where any such misconduct referred to under Rule 14-A is committed by an Advocate before any subordinate court, the Court concerned shall submit a report to the Principal District Court within whose jurisdiction it is situate and on receipt of such report, the Principal District Judge shall have the power to initiate action against the Advocate concerned and debar him from appearing before any Court within such District.
14-C: Procedure to be followed:-
The High Court or the Court of Principal District Judge, as the case may be, shall, before making an order under Rule 14-A, issue to such Advocate a summon returnable before it, requiring the Advocate to appear and show cause against the matters alleged in the summons and the summons shall if practicable, be served personally upon him.
14-D: Power to pass Interim Order:-
The High Court or the Court of Principal District Judge may, before making the Final Order under Rule 14-C, pass an interim order prohibiting the Advocate concerned from appearing before the High Court or Subordinate Courts, as the case may be, in appropriate cases, as it may deem fit, pending enquiry.”
7. Other High Courts, like the Gujarat High Court, have also framed similar set of rules under section 34(1) of the Advocates Act.