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HC probe in money for order

A client has accused his lawyer of charging Rs 36 lakh for getting the case decided

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: June 2, 2012 3:21:28 am

A client has accused his lawyer of charging Rs 36 lakh for getting the case decided

To find out the truth behind the accusations of a lawyer receiving Rs 36 lakh to obtain a favourable judgment in a property case,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday ordered a probe.

The “fact-finding enquiry” will be conducted by the District and Sessions Judge,Vigilance,of the High Court.

The probe was ordered after advocate Satvinder Singh Sisodia,who has been accused by his client of charging him Rs 36 lakh for managing a favourable order from the High Court,filed his reply. After perusing Sisodia’s reply,the High Court ordered the probe.

In his reply,Sisodia submitted that since his family had a relationship with the client,Darshan Singh,he had given a friendly loan of Rs 25 lakh to the client weeks before he had accepted the case,which pertains to ownership of a piece of prime land falling in Patiala. While the gram panchayat claims the land belongs to it,Singh had moved the court staking his ownership.

A division bench comprising Justices Rajive Bhalla and R K Jain questioned as to whether,under the Advocates Act,a lawyer could “give or take loan” from his client. Referring to ethics laid down for the legal profession,the bench asked if handing over a loan was permissible under the rules.

The bench also disapproved of Sisodia’s misconduct on the last date of hearing,May 30,when he had shouted at senior lawyer Anupam Gupta,who was asked by the High Court to assist in the case.

Terming Sisodia’s conduct “very unfair”,the bench orally remarked “we got an abhorrent feeling” when “motives were attributed against a counsel”. Reacting to this,Sisodia immediately tendered an unconditional apology to Gupta.

Asking Sisodia not “to feel victimised”,the bench observed that the Bar Association (lawyers of the High Court) was like a “nursery of the bench” and that the “nursery should be clean”.

The bench asked Lekh Raj Sharma,chairman of Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana,to “tighten its reins”.

Sharma clarified that most complaints against lawyers were false. On this,the bench asked why no action was taken against those who made false complaints or allegations against lawyers. “It is time to look within,” the bench noted.

Gupta was then asked to peruse Sisodia’s reply. Asserting that “prima facie” the reply struck him,Gupta said the case required a deeper inquiry under court supervision as “nowhere in the reply affirmatively or negatively does he address the basic charge (demand for Rs 36 lakh) against him”.

Interestingly,Gupta referred to a notice issued by Sisodia to his client on May 21. The notice said the client had obtained a stay on the basis of false and fabricated documents.

On May 30,Singh had alleged he had paid Rs 36 lakh — in addition to the fee of Rs 2 lakh — to Sisodia in October 2009 for getting the case decided.

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