In a recent development on January 8, the Supreme Court intervened in a case where the Gauhati High Court had imposed costs of Rs 20,000 on a junior advocate for attempting to mislead the court. The apex court, considering the advocate’s junior status at the Bar, requested the High Court to reassess the costs after the advocate tenders an unconditional apology.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra acknowledged the High Court’s concern, emphasizing that an advocate, as an officer of the court, is expected to discharge duties with utmost responsibility. While recognizing that being a junior at the Bar doesn’t grant immunity from proper code of behavior, the Supreme Court expressed confidence that the High Court would adopt a sympathetic view upon receiving a written personal apology from the advocate.
The court’s order stated, ”Being a junior at the Bar is not an immunity from observing a proper code of behavior, particularly in dealing with the court. At the same time, we have no manner of doubt that if the advocate tenders a written personal apology before the learned Single Judge of the High Court, the learned Single Judge would take a sympathetic view by passing an appropriate order.”
The case originated from a suit pending in the trial court, where the petitioners, represented by Mr. Haque, faced a delay of 22 days in filing the written statement. Consequently, the Trial Court imposed a cost of Rs. 20,000. Dissatisfied with this decision, the petitioners approached the High Court, where the advocate referred to the time limit for filing a written statement incorrectly as 120 days instead of the correct 90 days. The High Court, displeased with this submission, dismissed the application and imposed the aforementioned cost, citing an attempt to mislead the court.
The Supreme Court’s intervention not only highlights the importance of maintaining professional conduct but also underscores the significance of a genuine and timely apology, especially when made by a junior advocate. The court’s directive seeks to balance accountability with an understanding of the advocate’s position in the legal profession.