Complainant filed forged vakalatnama at the behest of accused: Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court recently became witness to a different situation, unlike other days, when during the hearing of a bail application, it was revealed that the counsel for the complainant had filed a forged 'Vakalatnama' at the directions of the counsel for the accused and the advocates appearing on behalf of the accused and the complainant were acting in collusion.

A Single Bench of Justice Sanjay Kumar Singh said the Counsel for the accused had 'arranged' a forged vakalatnama and engaged a lawyer to represent the accused to record no-objection to grant bail. The Bench passed this order, while hearing a Criminal Miscellaneous Bail Application filed by Javed Ansari.

Counsel Ram Ker Singh had appeared in this case on behalf of the applicant, whereas Hausila Prasad, Advocate, appeared on behalf of opposite party no 2/informant Gurdeep Verma, who is father of the victim/prosecutrix, aged about 15 years.

The Counsel for the applicant, after advancing his argument at some length, stated that Prasad has no objection in granting bail to the applicant. On being enquired by the  Court, Hausila Prasad, Advocate did not oppose the submissions of Counsel for the applicant.

Vivek Kumar Singh, Advocate appeared in the case and by raising a preliminary objection, apprised the Court that in fact only he has the instructions on behalf of the informant, Gurdeep Verma S/o Heman Verma, resident of Mohalla Sarai Gosain, police station Kotwali City, district Bulandshahr and not Hausala Prasad, Advocate, who has filed forged Vakalatnama on behalf of the informant.

He also pointed out that Hausila Prasad, Advocate has filed his Vakalatnama on 26th of July, 2021 through E-mode in collusion with Ram Ker Singh, Counsel for the applicant only to obtain bail by hook or crook and in fact the said Vakalatnama is a forged document, whereas the fact is that the complainant, Gurdeep Verma has not engaged him.

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When  Hausila Prasad was confronted with the submissions of Vivek Kumar Singh, Advocate that he has instructions on behalf of the complainant, Hausila Prasad, Advocate stated at the bar that the said Vakalatnama has been provided to him by Ram Ker Singh, Counsel for the applicant.

It was also submitted by Hausila Prasad that he is associated with Ram Ker Singh, Counsel appearing for the applicant.

It is further submitted that his fee to appear in this case on behalf of the complainant has also been given by Ram Ker Singh, Counsel for the applicant. He was engaged by Ram Ker Singh, for the reason that the Court may not issue the notices to the complainant, Gurdeep Verma and victim of the case, because the present matter pertains to offence under Section 376(2)(i), 506 IPC and 3/4 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, registered as Case at police station Kotwali Nagar, district Bulandshahr and grant bail to the applicant.

From the aforesaid statements made by Hausila Prasad, Advocate at the bar, who has appeared in the case on behalf of complainant, it is ostensibly clear that forged Vakalatnama has been filed on behalf of informant/complainant to surreptitiously obtain bail. Hard copy of the aforesaid "Vakalatnama" in question is made part of the record.

The Court said that the Hausila Prasad Counsel has tendered his unconditional apology by stating that in future he will take care of such things and will not repeat such mistake in future and also stated that he wants to withdraw his aforesaid Vakalatnama, whereas Ram Ker Singh, Counsel did not tender his apology and stated at the bar that it is not a new thing but it is a common practice in the High Court.

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The Court further said that this statement of Ram Ker Singh advocate is very shocking and painful to the conscience which creates a stir compelling one to ponder over the matter. The conduct of Ram Ker Singh and  Hausila Prasad, Advocates who are having a long standing experience of more than 40 years and 26 years of the practice respectively, is highly deplorable. The Court denounces/condemns the conduct of both the Advocates as they made an effort to tarnish the image of the noble profession of advocacy.

The Court held, "It is very painful to see the downfall in moral values of the noble legal profession. In the legal field, professional ethics are a fundamental requirement, because it is an important tool that establishes rule of law and keeps the legal profession and the legal institutions on a high pedestal. In the legal profession, in order to maintain the sanctity of faith between the Bar and the Bench, ethics are an important factor, which contains the elements of discipline, fairness, trust, moral values, help to colleagues, respect and responsibilities, etc. It creates confidence between the Bar and the Bench. Lawyers play a crucial role in the justice delivery system and in my view, professional ethics are the backbone of the legal profession, which is a self-regulating profession and it is the moral duty of the Bar and the Bench both to maintain the sanctity of the legal profession and the institution."

Vakalatnama is a valuable document in the legal profession, which empowers a lawyer to act for or on behalf of his client. Sometimes it confers wide authority/power upon a lawyer, therefore in the opinion of the Court, "Vakalatnama" must be beyond the shadow of any doubt.

"Hausila Prasad Advocate realizing his mistake has accepted his guilt before the Court, therefore, the Court is not taking any action against him and on his request, he is permitted to move an appropriate application to withdraw his Vakalatnama from the case, whereas Ram Ker Singh, Counsel  for the applicant, who had provided forged Vakalatnama of the informant and had also given fee to Hausila Prasad, as per disclosure made by him, neither tendered an oral apology nor did he feel regret on his conduct," the order said."Under the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court can not act as a silent spectator and has no option left, except to refer the issue of filing the forged Vakalatnama of the informant as mentioned above to the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh for taking appropriate action/decision in the matter," the Court observed.

"The issue of filing a forged Vakalatnama of any person in a Court proceeding is not a small one but it is serious issue, because it may adversely affect the valuable legal right and interest of the persons/litigants concerned, ergo keeping in view, the larger interest of the litigants /victims, complainants or aggrieved persons specially in criminal matters and members of the bar, who believe in professional ethics, the  Court feels that now it is high time to adopt some remedial measures, so the litigants or aggrieved persons are not deprived of their legal rights. The Court proposes that along with Vakalatnama, self attested copy of any identity proof (preferably Aadhar Card) mentioning mobile number of the person concerned should also be filed or any other method may be adopted in the interest of litigants and the institution," the order read.

In view of above, the Court issued the following directions:-

(i)-Let a copy of this order be placed before the Registrar General of this Court within a week, who shall forward the certified copy of this order to the Chairman, Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh within two weeks thereafter for taking appropriate action/decision in the matter in accordance with law.

(ii)-The copy of this order be circulated to all the Hon'ble sitting judges of this Court as well to the president, Allahabad High Court Bar Association and Advocates' association.

(iii)-The aforesaid proposal as mentioned in paragraph no. 9 of this order, be placed by the Registrar General before Hon'ble the Acting Chief Justice for necessary directions in the matter.

(iv)-A notice be issued to the informant/opposite party No. 2, Gurdeep Verma through Chief Judicial Magistrate concerned, who will ensure service of notice upon the informant/opposite party No. 2 and submit a report by the next date fixed in the matter.

The court has fixed the next hearing of the petition on September 7, 2021.