V.P.KumarVelu vs State Bar Council of India, New Delhi

The appellant was appointed as city government pleader in all the Civil courts constituted in Madras other than the High Court of Madras, in October 1978 .

                The commission and secretary of Tamil nadu filed a complaint against appellan before the disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of Tamil nadu was in respect of Suite Number 400/1978 on the file of the City Civil Court at Madras. The government pleader was instructed to appear on behalf of the state government . in that case .The memo of appearance was filed by the previous government pleader. However when the Appellant  was appointed government pleader, a fresh memo of parties was not filed on his behalf nor the papers were  put before him . As a result , the suit was decreed ex Parte against the state.
In another case pertaining the appellant, a suit was filed by the Travancore textile Limited against the state of Tamilnadu relating to the lease of land forming part of a Channel. plaintiff had prayed for a declaration that the annual rent of Rs 3609.66 as also the municipal taxes levied were  illegal. Plaintiff had also made a prayer of the refund of ₹ 25,575.40 with interest and for a further declaration that he need not to pay any rent after 30 June 1974 the complainant alleged that as a result of the gross negligence on the part of the appellant the government of Tamilnadu had suffered substantial loss.

            The appellant contended that since the office staff had not put the paper of this case before him, it was through inadvertence that the suit was decreed ex Parte, The bar council of India had noted that at the time when and application for setting aside the order was filed , the applicant the applicant must have known the pendency of the case and serious consequences that could  follow,If the order for payment of cost were not complied with. The bar council held that for this lapse the appellant/ applicant could not raise the plea that staff was negligent. The bar council stated that the office staff of the appellant was also responsible for misleading the applicant and keeping him in dark.


              In another complaint it was alleged  that the applicant did not attend to the case and an ex Parte decree was passed. This complaint was in respect of a suit filed by an employee of the Directorate of Education of state of Tamilnadu challenging his date of birth. Summons was forwarded to the appellant along with a letter informing him the date of hearing. There was an endorsement made by the office of government pleader on that letter. Another letter was received by the government pleader on which An endorsement was made remarks/written statement to be prepared ". However, no memorandum for reappearance was file in that suit on behalf of the state of Tamilnadu and an ex Parte decree was passed in that suit. In this respect, the applicant contended that the office had not put up this papers before him and therefore there had been Lapse in attending the case. The bar council of India accepted that there was no deliberate lapse on the part of the appellant.  However he was held guilty of constructive negligence by the bar council of India and it is reprimanded him for time lapse .

              In Appeal, the supreme court held that there was no finding of any Mala fides on the part of the appellant or any deliberate inaction on his part in not attending to the two cases. There was failure on his part to discharge his duties towards his client but it was not deliberate but on account of heavy pressure of work and lack of diligence on the part of his stuff. The negligence  on his part was without moral turpitude or delinquency and therefore he was not held guilty of professional misconduct. 

The supreme court observed 

Whether negligence will amount to professional misconduct will depend upon the fact of each case.  Gross negligence in the discharge of  partakes of shades of delinquency and would undoubtedly amount to professional misconduct. But negligence without moral turpitude or  delinquency may not amount to professional misconduct ".

The supreme court however observed that the appellant was rightly held guilty of negligence but in the absence of any moral turpitude or delinquency on his part, the finding of the bar council of India that his conduct in the facts and circumstances of the case amounted to professional misconduct could not be suited sustained.

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