In a recent judgment on Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 8847 of 2023, the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Bela Trivedi, underscored the crucial role of advocates as officers of the court. The bench emphasized that advocates have a responsibility not only to represent their clients but also to ensure diligent verification of facts from the case records, thereby assisting the court in administering justice fairly.

The case involved Saumya Chaurasia, former deputy secretary to ex-Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel of Chhattisgarh, seeking bail in a money laundering case. Chaurasia contended that certain scheduled offenses under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 had been dropped from the chargesheet. However, despite her submission, the High Court, which had reserved judgment prior to the filing of the chargesheet and cognizance order, did not take into account the absence of these scheduled offenses against her.

During the hearing, the Supreme Court queried whether the chargesheet and cognizance order had been presented before the High Court, to which Chaurasia’s lawyers affirmed their submission. However, it later surfaced that the chargesheet was not actually presented before the High Court. The bench, highlighting the importance of adhering to Supreme Court Rules, criticized this oversight in verifying facts by Chaurasia’slegal team.

Despite the petition’s vulnerability to dismissal solely due to this oversight, the Court proceeded to examine the case’s merits. Ultimately, the Court ruled against granting bail to Chaurasia, additionally imposing an extraordinary cost of one lakh rupees for submitting incorrect statements in the appeal.

The judgment’s essence revolved around the ethical obligations of advocates, especially designated senior advocates, who are expected to maintain a high standard of professionalism and legal acumen. The Court stressed that while advocates operate based on their clients’ instructions, they must diligently verify facts from the case records, leveraging their legal expertise to assist the court impartially in executing its duty to dispense justice.

This case’s significance lies in highlighting the pivotal role advocates play in upholding the integrity of legal proceedings by ensuring accurate disclosures of material facts and adhering to procedural norms. The bench’s observations underscored the need for advocates to not only represent their clients but also uphold the sanctity of legal procedures and factual accuracy.

Furthermore, the Court’s imposition of an extraordinary cost serves as a deterrent against presenting incorrect statements or overlooking crucial facts during legal proceedings. The cost, amounting to one lakh rupees, was directed to be deposited before the Supreme Court Legal Services Authority.

This judgment serves as a reminder of the ethical responsibilities and professional conduct expected from advocates, emphasizing their duty not only to their clients but also to the integrity of the judicial process. It reiterates the significance of accurate disclosure of facts, adherence to procedural norms, and ethical advocacy in ensuring a fair and just legal system.

The Court’s decision In Saumya Chaurasia v. Directorate of Enforcement reaffirms the pivotal role advocates play as officers of the court, highlighting the necessity for unwavering commitment to ethical standards, meticulous verification of facts, and upholding the integrity of legal proceedings to facilitate the fair administration of justice.

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