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Lawyers ask: Rule against soliciting work only for lawyers, not applicable to judges?

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New Delhi: An interesting observation by a division bench of the Delhi High Court on September 18 may have not only given rise to a conflict of interest situation, but also may have shown a spotlight on the restrictions that practicing lawyers are generally under, as per rules. The two situations, placed side by side, will show the stark contrast in existing legal reins on the bar and the bench.

The incident happened during the hearing of a case where a question on merits arose. The case was about three out of 15 shareholders of a Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) and associated property. The three had moved an application under section 151 CPC in company appeal and seeking clarification on “Whether the share in the property received by a son on partition of a HUF is “HUF” or ‘individual’ in his hands?”

This being an interesting case in law, there was an application for clarification. That was when the division bench, presided by Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon passed the ‘order’ saying: “However, one of us (Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw) will be demitting office on 13th August, 2021 and the advocates are at liberty to approach him for advice at that time, by deferring the execution of the sale deed till then.”

The objective of this seems to have baffled lawyers. Some ask, is this reflects that the sitting judge is soliciting work in advance, much before retirement?

Lawyers have said that this flies in the face of laws that restrict lawyers. They point out that as per Bar Council Rule 36 Section IV, Chapter II, Advocates cannot solicit work.

Rule 36 reads as follows:

Rule 36:  An advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned. His sign-board or name-plate should be of a reasonable size. The sign-board or name-plate or stationery should not indicate that he is or has been President or Member of a Bar Council or of any Association or that he has been associated with any person or organisation or with any particular cause or matter or that he specialises in any particular type of worker or that he has been a Judge or an Advocate General.”

This apparent bias in rules has baffled lawyers at large. Are rules regarding soliciting work applicable only to lawyers, and not to any sitting judge of the country?

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Lawyers also ask that in the above backdrop and with such precedents, can this High Court order warrant any disciplinary action by the Bar Council?

This is an interesting ponderable and lawyers feel it is time somebody brought this up in a forum.

Order Attached Here;

Endlaw-order

-ILNS

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