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  • Aryan Agarwal

#CaseBrief:Nandlal Khodidas Barot v Bar Council Of Gujarat

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Petitioner: Nandlal Khodidas Barot

·  Respondent: Bar Council of Gujarat

·  Bench: Justice A Gupta, Justice A Sen


FACTS

Nandlal Khodidas Barot, the appellant, appealed under Section 38 of the Advocates Act, 1961. The Bar Council of India, in a proceeding transferred under Section 36B of the Act, found the appellant guilty of professional misconduct based on a complaint filed on October 9, 1971, before the Gujarat Bar Council.

 

ISSUES

The key issue revolves around the validity of the proceedings, specifically whether the State Bar Council had properly exercised its authority under Section 35(1) of the Advocates Act, 1961, in referring the case to the Disciplinary Committee.

 

HOLDING

The court held that the reference made by the State Bar Council to the Disciplinary Committee lacked validity. As the resolution did not explicitly state that the State Bar Council had considered the complaint and found a prima facie case, the reference was deemed invalid, rendering subsequent proceedings before the Disciplinary Committees void.

 

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

The Bar Council of Gujarat passed a resolution on November 16, 1971, referring multiple complaints, including one against the appellant, to the Disciplinary Committee. The appellant challenged this reference, questioning whether the State Bar Council had properly considered the complaint before making the referral.

 

RATIONALE

Citing the precedent set in Bar Council of Maharashtra v. M.V. Dhholkar, the court emphasized that a State Bar Council must have a reasoned belief, based on a prima facie case of misconduct, before referring a case to the Disciplinary Committee. In this case, the court found that the resolution lacked the necessary indication that such consideration had taken place.

 

DICTA

The court highlighted the importance of the "reason to believe" requirement, stating that it should not become a procedural roadblock but serves as a barrier against frivolous inquiries. However, it also noted that the Bar Council's resolution should implicitly reflect that it had considered the complaint before deciding to refer it to the Disciplinary Committee.

 

ARGUMENTS

The appellant argued that the reference by the State Bar Council was invalid since there was no explicit indication in the resolution that the State Bar Council had considered the complaint and found a prima facie case. The Bar Council of India likely defended the validity of the proceedings.

 

JUDGEMENT

The court allowed the appeal, setting aside the order of the Disciplinary Committee of the Bar Council of India that suspended the appellant from practice for one year. The court declared the reference by the State Bar Council as invalid due to its failure to explicitly state the consideration of a prima facie case, rendering subsequent proceedings void. No costs were awarded.

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