The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) at New Delhi recently imposed ₹1 lakh costs on a party who appeared through a counsel who was later found to be pretending to be an advocate [Dushyant v CCI].
The order was passed by Judicial Member Justice Rakesh Kumar and Technical Member Dr Ashok Kumar Mishra, who also asked the Registrar to take appropriate steps in accordance with law after examining entire material on record.
"The CCI is also directed to remain vigilant while entertaining Information applications. Unauthorised representation must be checked at its initial stage,” the order read.
The Tribunal was hearing an appeal against an order of the Competition Commission of India (CCI) which had rejected the information petition filed by the appellant.
While hearing the appeal, the Tribunal found that one Sumit Jain had filed pleadings before both the forums pretending to be the appellant’s counsel.
This came to light when Jain was asked why he had not filed the vakaltnama. He candidly admitted that he was not an advocate. He also clarified that he was not a Chartered Accountant, Company Secretary or Cost Accountant.
This was noted to be against the provisions relating to representation under the Competition Act.
“There is no doubt in the mind of the Tribunal that a party cannot be represented by any third person who have not been included in either of the aforesaid statutory provisions.”
Further, the Tribunal took note of the fact Jain had impersonated himself as the appellant’s counsel to some extent. In this regard, several documents were referred to where he had signed as the appellant’s lawyer.
The Bench also took a dim view of the fact that the informant had filed the plea in the capacity of an individual, when in fact, he was running an accreditation agency as a proprietor. On this aspect, it was held,
"Law is settled on the point that if one does not come before the Court or Tribunal with clean hands his claim deserves to be rejected, where as in the present case it is not a simple case that the Appellant has not approached the Court with clean hands but it is one step ahead wherein he has misled both the CCI as well as this Tribunal."
Therefore, apart from the non-maintainability of the appeal, the Tribunal found no need to examine it on merits, since the appellant misled both the CCI as well as the NCLAT.
Additionally, to prevent recurrence of such an activity, the appeal was disposed with costs.
“With a view to preserve sanctity of the court proceeding and confidence of the public in the system, simply dismissal of this Appeal may not serve the purpose,” the Bench reasoned.
With this, the appellant was asked to deposit ₹1 lakh costs with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee within twenty days, and submit proof of such deposit with the Registrar.