Professional Ethics cannot be contained in a Bar Council rule nor traditional
can't in the books but in new canons of conscience which will command the
members of the calling of justice to obey rules or morality and utility." -
Justice Krishna Iyer.
In State of Punjab v. Ram Singh
, the Supreme Court discussed that
'Professional Misconduct' may involve:
- Wrongful or unacceptable behaviour
- Behaviour that is unlawful according to the law
- Carelessness in the discharge of duty
- An act is forbidden by law
- Or transgression
- Making false allegations against judicial officers
- Committing crimes
- Making groundless and insulting remarks to witness
- Giving wrong advice to the client
Chapter V of the Advocate Act, 1961, talks about advocates' conduct and
elucidates the punishment of professional and other misconduct.
Section 35(1) of the Advocate Act, 1961, says, where on receipt of a complaint
or otherwise a State Bar Council has reason to believe that any advocate on its
roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the
case for disposal to its disciplinary committee. 
Meaning of professional misconduct and its scope:
The ambit of professional misconduct was increased in the case of Noratanman
Courasia v. M. R. Murali , in which an advocate assaulted and thrashed the
complainant to refrain him from proceeding with the case. The main issue in the
said case was despite not operating in his official role as an advocate,
therefore the advocate's activities still qualified as misconduct for which the
Bar Council might file a complaint.
The Supreme Court maintained that an advocate must adhere to the standards of
conduct required to earn the public's trust as a court officer. Due to his
inappropriate actions, the Bar Council was justified in pursuing disciplinary
action against him, even though he was not acting as an advocate.
Bribery taken by Judges:
Bribery allegations against judges by advocates are not new in India. The
judiciary is considered one of the pillars of democracy, and any allegation of
corruption against it is a matter of great concern. Bribery allegations against
judges by advocates have been a concern for many years. The allegations usually
involve the payment of money to judges by advocates to influence the outcome of
a case in their favour. This not only undermines the impartiality of the
judiciary but also harms the legal profession's reputation.
The Indian legal system has several mechanisms to deal with such allegations.
The Constitution of India provides for an independent judiciary, and the
judiciary has the power to punish any person found guilty of contempt of court.
The issue of bribery allegations against judges by advocates came to the
forefront in 2011 when the Former Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G.
Balakrishnan, was accused of taking bribes to influence his judicial decisions.
The allegations were made by an advocate, Prashant Bhushan, who filed a public
interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India. The allegations were
based on a report by the Income Tax department, which found evidence of
unaccounted cash deposits in the bank accounts of Justice Balakrishnan's family
The case created controversy and sparked a debate about the need for a
transparent and accountable judiciary. The Supreme Court of India dismissed the
PIL filed by Prashant Bhushan, but the issue of bribery allegations against
judges by advocates continued to be a matter of concern.
In 2018, another controversy erupted when four senior judges of the Supreme
Court of India held a press conference, alleging that the then Chief Justice of
India, Justice Dipak Mishra, had assigned cases selectively and disregarded
seniority in the appointment of Judges to High Courts. The press conference
created a furore and raised questions about the impartiality of the judiciary.
In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases of bribery
allegations against judges by advocates. In 2018, a retired judge of the Orissa
High Court, I.M. Quddusi, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation
(CBI) on charges of accepting bribes to influence the outcome of a case. The
case involved the debarment of a private medical college by the Medical Council
of India. Quddusi was alleged to have received a bribe of Rs 2 crore to secure a
favourable verdict in the case.
Similarly, in 2011, Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court was
impeached by the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament, for
misappropriation of funds and judicial impropriety. Justice Sen was accused of
diverting funds from a trust he managed to his account and making false
statements in court. The impeachment motion against Justice Sen was passed in
the Rajya Sabha.
Misconduct with judges- by Advocates:
The Supreme Court has clarified the meaning of "misconduct" in a few of its
rulings. In the case of Sambhu Ram Yadav v. Hanuman Das Khatry , The
appellant brought an action against an attorney with the Rajasthan Bar Council,
stating that while serving as the legal representative in the case, he wrote a
letter stating that the judge in question acknowledged bribes and asked for
10,000 rupees to persuade the judge by luring him to secure a decision in his
After finding the advocate guilty of "misconduct," the Disciplinary Committee
pronounced the counsel to be "completely unsuitable to be an advocate." The
Supreme Court confirmed the Rajasthan Bar Council's finding that the profession
of law is neither a trade or business. Members of the legal community have a
unique duty to uphold the integrity of their trade and fight bribery in order to
guarantee that the justice system is administered lawfully.
These cases highlight the need for a more effective mechanism for dealing with
bribery allegations against judges and misconduct by advocates. The judiciary
must take a firm stand against corruption and ensure that those found guilty of
accepting bribes are punished severely. The Bar Council of India must also
proactively regulate the legal profession and deal with misconduct complaints.
Similarly, misbehaviour by advocates towards judges is also a severe issue as it
can impede the smooth functioning of the justice system. Advocates are court
officers and are expected to maintain decorum and respect towards the judges
while arguing their cases.
In recent years, there have been instances where advocates have been accused of
misbehaving with judges or making unfounded allegations against them.
In 2017, a lawyer named A.P. Singh, representing one of the convicts in the
Nirbhaya gang rape case made derogatory remarks about the judge and the victim
in court. While reprimanding the lawyer, the judge said, "You have crossed all
limits. You cannot use such language in front of me." The incident received
widespread condemnation, and the Bar Council of India took action against the
lawyer by suspending his license for three months.
Primary reasons for misbehaviour by advocates towards judges in India is:
Impact of misbehaviour:
- High-pressure environment of the legal profession:
Advocates are under immense pressure to win cases and often resort to
unethical means to achieve their goals. This leads to aggressive behaviour towards judges, resulting in
verbal or physical assault.
- Lack of accountability in the legal profession:
In India, there is no
effective mechanism for disciplining advocates who engage in misbehaviour
towards judges. This lack of accountability emboldens advocates to engage in
such behaviour, knowing they are unlikely to face any consequences.
- Lack of proper training and education for advocates:
Is also a contributing
factor. Many advocates in India lack the necessary skills and knowledge to
conduct themselves professionally in court. This can lead to frustration and a
lack of respect for the court, manifesting in misbehaviour towards judges.
Misbehaviour by advocates towards judges has several implications for the
judicial system in India. It undermines the authority and credibility of the
judiciary, which is essential for upholding the rule of law. It also creates a
hostile environment in courtrooms, which can be intimidating for litigants and
Moreover, misbehaviour can lead to delays in the administration of justice. When
advocates engage in misbehaviour towards judges, it can disrupt court
proceedings and prolong the resolution of cases. This can have a significant
impact on the lives of litigants who are waiting for justice.
Measures to address the problem:
Several measures can be taken to address the problem of misbehaviour by
advocates towards judges in India.
The issue of bribery allegations on judges by advocates and misbehaviour by
advocates towards judges is a complex issue that requires a multi-pronged
approach to address. Some of the measures that can be taken to address the
Transparency and Accountability: There is a need for greater transparency and
accountability in the functioning of the judiciary. The appointment of judges,
their assets, and liabilities, and their performance should be made public to
ensure that they are free from any external influence or pressure.
Code of Conduct: There should be a strict code of conduct for advocates, which
should include provisions for their behaviour towards judges. Any act of
misbehaviour should be met with stern disciplinary action, including suspension
or disbarment, to deter advocates from indulging in such conduct.
Training and Education: Advocates should be provided with training and education
on ethical behaviour and decorum in court. This will help in creating a culture
of respect towards the judiciary and promote professionalism in the legal
Independent Oversight: There should be an independent oversight mechanism to
monitor the conduct of judges and advocates. Such a mechanism can be established
through the appointment of an independent commission or an ombudsman to receive
complaints and investigate cases of misconduct.
Quick and Effective Remedies: There should be a quick and effective mechanism
for remedying grievances of advocates who feel that they have been unfairly
treated by judges. This will ensure that grievances are addressed in a timely
and efficient manner, without resorting to acts of misconduct.
Bribe allegations on judges by advocates and misbehaviour by advocates towards
judges are serious issues that can have significant implications for the
integrity of the justice system in India.
In India, the Constitution guarantees the independence of the judiciary, and it
is the responsibility of judges to dispense justice impartially and without fear
or favour. Any attempt to influence or bribe judges undermines the independence
and credibility of the judiciary.
The field of law is not a commerce or a business; it is a respectful, reputable,
and untainted societal profession. Representatives of this profession should not
promote deception and corruption, but rather work to ensure justice for their
customers. The legitimacy and prestige of the profession are determined by how
its members behave themselves. It represents a harmonious connection between the
Bar and the Bench.
In conclusion, bribery allegations against judges by advocates and misbehaviour
by advocates towards judges in India are issues that pose a threat to the
integrity and fairness of the judiciary. The judiciary plays a vital role in
upholding the rule of law and protecting the rights of citizens. Any act that
undermines the credibility and independence of the judiciary erodes public trust
in the legal system and jeopardizes the functioning of democracy.
The problem of bribery allegations against judges and misbehaviour by advocates
towards judges requires a comprehensive approach involving transparency and
accountability, a strict code of conduct, training and education, independent
oversight, and quick and effective remedies for grievances. These measures will
go a long way in creating a culture of respect towards the judiciary and
promoting professionalism in the legal community.
It is essential that all stakeholders, including the judiciary, the legal
community, and the government, work together to address the problem and ensure
that the judiciary remains free from external influence or pressure. The
public's confidence in the judiciary is paramount to the functioning of
democracy, and any act that undermines it should be addressed promptly and
effectively. By taking the necessary steps to address the problem, India can
ensure that its judiciary remains impartial, independent, and trustworthy.
Written By: Anmol Gupta
- 1992 SCC (4) 54.
- The Advocates Act, 1961.
- (2004) 5 SCC 689.
- No evidence to prove corruption charges against former CJI, family: Centre, The Tribune, Nov. 17, 2015, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/archive/nation/no-evidence-to-prove-corruption-charges-against-former-cji-family-centre-159373.
- Former HC judge IM Quddusi arrested by CBI in medical college graft case, Sep. 21, 2017, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/cji-dipak-misra-impeachment-charges-levelled-by-opposition-and-where-they-stand-5145717/.
- Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court, (2021), https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/justice-sen-resigns-ahead-of-mondays-impeachment-motion/article2417401.ece.
- Appeal (civil) 6768 of 2000
- Aditi (2020) https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/bar-council-of-delhi-issues-notice-adv-ap-singh-nirbhaya, 20 January. Available at: https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/bar-council-of-delhi-issues-notice-adv-ap-singh-nirbhaya (Accessed: January 20, 2020).
, Jindal Global Law School