In a very significant development, a well known Cyber lawyer has been booked along with a Notary and two others, in Thane for fabricating documents submitted in the Court. According to information available, a document was notarized on behalf of a client and submitted in a Court proceeding though the executant was not even in India at the time of the purported execution of the documents.
In 2016, in a similar incident, an woman lawyer also in Thane had been arrested for fabricating legal documents for securing her clients.
In a related development, the law firm Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas withdrew its 2016 report that had given a cleanchit to former ICICI Bank chief executive Chanda Kochhar with regard to nepotism allegations against her. Now that the Justice Srikrishna enquiry had indicted her in the Videocon case, the law firm has retracted their earlier report in a self admission of their guilt.
These incidents indicate the alarming tendency of the advocates going to any extent to win a case even if it borders on illegality.
The charging of the professional advocate Prashant Mali for falsification of documents follows the recent trends where Chartered accountants have been criminally indicted for either falsifying audit reports or providing illegal advises to the clients to cheat the Government on taxes.
The immediate reaction could be to sympathize with the professionals because the basic motive behind these actions was to promote their professional services and unfortunately, they forgot that there was something called “Ethics” in business/profession.
But when these professionals adopted unethical practices and transgress into the domain of illegality, they are actually stealing justice from their opponents who were innocent parties to a litigation and perhaps deserved the support of the judiciary. Hence we need to take objection to such practices.
The advocate Mr Prashant Mali involved in the recent case is known to have recorded many significant achievements in Cyber Law cases. He is a prominent conference speaker also and is well known in professional circles. He may also be resourceful enough to get himself cleared of the charge.
But this incident underscores the fact that “Advocates” are increasingly becoming abetters in crime by adopting unethical shortcuts to reach their objectives.
This must stop.
We therefore welcome the Thane Police for taking up this issue and wish it would be pursued to the logical end in the interest of preserving the integrity of the judicial system in India.
Pursuing the complaint which actually constitutes multiple offences such as forgery, conspiracy to create falsified documents and misleading a Court through perjury is essential. It would be good for the community of honest advocates who in trying to be ethical, often lose clients to the dishonest and crooked lawyers.
Integrity of the Judicial System needs to be preserved
Citizens who hold the Courts in high esteem, look upon the Courts as temples where justice is delivered. Justice often is delayed and some times, justice based on a bad law may not be good justice. However, within the limitations of the law as drafted and as interpreted and as supported by evidences, justice is dispensed by Courts in good faith.
In a large measure, Judges discharge their duties in good faith and honestly and hence public still have some confidence in the system. However, we often hear of corruption in the Judicial system and ideological leanings of judges. These are aberrations with which the society has to live.
Hopefully the culture of the country like India where there is still respect for traditions based on Ramayana and Mahabharata etc., ..the so called “Hindu Culture” has instilled some sense of duty in most people born in India even if they belong to non Hindu religion. In the recent days, there may be an attempt to change this traditional mindset of “being honest”, “Being truthful” etc. as the society chases money. But largely the foundation of honesty and the fear of “Karma” is in place and this is what is holding up the Indian Judicial system from crumbling.
But the bane of the Indian judiciary has long been the advocates who are actually expected to be “Servants of the Court” and duty bound is to assist the Court in rendering justice, but often turn out to be the persons responsible for misguiding the clients as well as the Courts. In a bid to win cases, Advocates advice their clients to lie on oath as a standard part of tutoring the witnesses. (Prosecution may not be far behind this practice of making witnesses lie on oath but this does not justify the corruption of the legal profession by abandoning of ethics).
Advocates are also the main conduit for corrupting the judiciary and bench hunting that happens in Courts is part of the manifestation of this trend.
Where the fault lies
Our legal education system appears to have failed in its duty to inculcate “Ethics” as part of the culture with which advocates leave the educational institutions and join practice.
The Bar Council also has failed in instilling the ethical principles in the functioning of their members.
The Judiciary also does not take corrective action on the advocates who are proved to be making false statements both orally and in the affidavits they make their clients to sign.
Thus all of these three institutions have to share the blame and look for what they can do to clean up the system of such unethical legal practice. When these types of lawyers become judges in due course, they will definitely corrupt the judiciary also.
Bring Back Ethics in the profession of Advocates
It is therefore time that we bring some ethics into the profession of advocates and boost the profession of ethical advocates against the not so ethical.
The Bar Council has to take the lead in this by taking disciplinary action against erring advocates when such incidents surface, by suspending their practice until at least the charges are cleared if not permanently. But such advocates should be permanently black listed for future appointment to any judicial positions.
If Mr Hardik Pandya and K.L.Rahul can be suspended from playing cricket because of inappropriate statements, there is no reason why the Bar Council cannot take punitive action in case of proven falsification of documents as it appears to have occurred in this incident.
Thane Police and Judiciary will be on watch
Public will be watching what further action is taken by the Thane police and the relevant Court. Will they be persuaded into overlooking a fraud? or take such action that would make other advocates to think hundred times before embarking on such practices?…only time will tell.
I am sure that such incidents do happen in all Courts and hence the right action taken here will set an example across the country.