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WHETHER LAWYER ACT IN DUAL CAPACITY AS GPA HOLDER AND VAKALATH ATTORNEY

Justice D Dhanuka of Bombay High Court in the case of AIR 1993 Bom 217 It is well settled law that the constituted attorney of a suitor has no right of audience in Court or to cross-examine witnesses. The Constituted Attorney is merely entitled to 'act' and 'appear' for a party but has no right to 'plead' in a Court. The expressions 'act' and 'appear' do not mean 'right to plead' as such. It has been so held by our High Court in the case of A.S. Patel v. National Rayond Corporation Limited, . It is permissible for an Advocate to act as a 'recognised agent' or a Constituted Attorney by virtue of Power of Attorney executed in his favour by a suitor and sign vakalatnama pleadings and affidavits on behalf of the donor of Power of Attorney to the extent provided in the Code of Civil Procedure as aforesaid. In all such cases the signature of Constituted Attorney on pleadings, affidavits, vakalatnama and other documents is liable to be equated to signature of a party itself for all practical purposes. It follows that in all such cases the plaintiff or the defendant is deemed to have signed the pleading by the hand of his Constituted Attorney. The pleadings are required to be verified and declared by the signatory thereof with reference to personal knowledge of the averments made therein or on basis of information and belief. The question to be asked is as to whether an advocate who acts as Constituted Attorney of a suitor in pursuance of power of attorney from his client is entitled to combine his role of a constituted attorney with that of an advocate in the same cause simultaneously. Members of the Bar are governed by the provisions contained in the Advocates Act 1961, well known principles and doctrines recognised for generations and are rightly described as partner in Administration of justice. Advocates in their professional capacity are enjoined to act with complete impartiality and detachment and not entitled to identify themselves with the clients or the cause personally. The paramount duty of an Advocate is to assist the Court in its task of administering justice. In, the event of there being any conflict between interest and duty, the Advocate must yield in favour of his duty to assist the cause of fair and impartial justice. An Advocate is expected to be fair and reasonable towards his opponent. All these principles bind the Advocates in discharge of their professional duties. Advocates belong to noble profession of law. On the other hand, a constituted attorney is entitled to identify himself with the donor of Power of Attorney and act in the same manner as the suitor-litigant is entitled to act. An Advocate is governed not merely by written provisions of the Advocates Act 1961 but also by traditions of the Bar built up for generation during the course of administration of justice for centuries. It is provided by Order III Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure that a vakalatmana should be signed by the party or by his recognised agent in favour of the pleader. The question to be asked illustratively is as to whether the pleader acting in his capacity as constituted attorney of a litigant can sign such vakalatnama as a client in his own favour as an Advocate or in favour of the firm in which such constituted attorney himself is one of the partners. The answer is in negative. The question to be asked is as to whether the two roles can be combined? The question to be asked is as to whether it is not inherent in the scheme and the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure and implicit in the provisions contained in Order III Rule 4 of the Code of Civil Procedure and other connected provisions that advocate who acts or appears or pleads before the Court in a professional capacity must have a client with separate and distinct identity. The answer to these questions is obvious. For all practical purposes, the recognised agent of a suitor is on par with the suitor or client himself; an Advocate is not, as an Advocate is an independent person with a specific role in administration of justice. In certain situations advocates are permitted to accept power of attorneys from a client for purpose of acting in a suit or matter, sign pleadings, vakalatnama and affidavits on behalf of plaintiff or defendant as case may be. An Advocate may be appointed as a Receiver in a suit or a cause. No one can object to the Advocate accepting these assignments permissible under the law. The question still remains as to whether the advocate who is holding a power of attorney from a client to act and appear in a suit or matter can also act in the professional capacity in the same proceedings at the same time. The answer to this question is of too obvious and has to be in negative. Detachment and impartiality expected of an Advocate is likely to be jeopardised when an Advocate acts in both the capacities. The risk in allowing combination of two roles is far too serious. I must therefore, construe the Code of Civil Procedures harmoniously and in a manner so as to prevent confusion, anamoly and misunder-standing. In my opinion, law does not permit the combination of two capacities in the same cause. Law prohibits such combination and rightly so.

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