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'Give Your Gown Back': Uttarakhand HC Seeks to Cancel Designation of a Senior Advocate

Justice Lok Pal Singh has recommended cancellation of Senior Advocate Avtar Singh Rawat’s designation, and directed that his observations be placed before the Chief Justice of the Uttarakhand High Court for further steps.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:April 10, 2018, 6:17 PM IST
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'Give Your Gown Back': Uttarakhand HC Seeks to Cancel Designation of a Senior Advocate
File photo of Uttarakhand High Court.
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New Delhi: In an extraordinary move, the Uttarakhand High Court has sought to take back the designation of ‘Senior Advocate’ from a veteran lawyer for allegedly making a “false statement” and acting in an “unethical manner”.

Justice Lok Pal Singh has recommended cancellation of Senior Advocate Avtar Singh Rawat’s designation, and directed that his observations be placed before the Chief Justice of the High Court for further steps.

“It is evidently clear that after being designated as Senior Advocate, Mr Avtar Singh Rawat by virtue of his conduct and behaviour inside the court room, forfeited this privilege/distinction conferred upon him by the Court. In the opinion of this Court, he does not deserve to continue as a Senior Advocate,” ordered the Single Judge Bench.

“Therefore, the matter be placed before Hon’ble the Chief Justice for being, in turn, placed before the Full Court for consideration of withdrawal/cancellation of the designation of Mr Rawat as a Senior Advocate,” it added.

This judgment was passed in February but it was released yesterday as the judge took some time in making suitable corrections in this rare order.

Justice Singh was irked over the fact that Rawat reportedly appeared for a client some years ago but argued against the same client in a fresh case before the Bench.

The client had moved an application, seeking action against Rawat for professional misconduct. Rawat not only refuted the contention but also asserted that as a Senior Advocate, he could appear for anyone anytime.

The records of the previous case in 2009, however, showed there was a vakalatnama filed by Rawat in the previous case. He was not designated at that time.

The Bench took strong view of the fact that, despite the opportunity granted by the Court, Rawat did not withdraw himself from the case and argued the matter on behalf of Power Grid Corporation of India against his previous client in the same subject matter.

“The conduct of Rawat, Senior Advocate, is against the professional ethics and appears to be misconduct on his part,” said Justice Singh. The judge added that while the issue of professional misconduct will have to be looked into by the Bar Council, the question regarding Rawat’s designation should be answered because he was designated as a Senior Advocate by the Uttarakhand High Court.

“An advocate is always known for his integrity, character, moral and high standards of ethics… A lawyer is known for his extra ordinary knowledge / intelligence. A bonafide mistake is excusable, but a mistake committed deliberately is inexcusable. From the material available on record, as also from the statement of Mr Rawat, it would reveal that it was not a bonafide mistake committed by him rather it was a deliberate act,” noted the Bench.

It added that first, Rawat made a false statement before the Court that he was not engaged as a counsel by the applicant-appellant and second, the seasoned lawyer argued that being a Senior Counsel he can argue the case even against his previous client.

“This conduct is not accepted from a common prudent person, much less a Senior Advocate. As far as a Senior Advocate is concerned, he is always considered on a highest pedestal and it is expected from a Senior Advocate to act ethically in accordance with the provisions contained in the Advocates Act. But, Mr Rawat, Senior Advocate, failed to maintain the dignity, moral and high ethics of a Senior Advocate and acted in unethical manner,” held Justice Singh.

Justice Singh directed the Registrar General of the High Court to place his order before the chief justice for processing his recommendation in terms of Uttarakhand High Court Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2009.

Rawat has previously also served as Additional Advocate General of the state in the Supreme Court and in the High Court.
| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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