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A Disciplinary Committee of the Tamil Nadu Bar Council has suspended an advocate for a five -year period after he was found guilty of attempting to misappropriate his client’s property worth over Rs 1 crore.
The Committee of Chairman R Singaravelan and Members S Ilamvaluthi and Ravi Shanmugam passed the order of suspension against Advocate B Senguttuvan. The order passed on May 14 found that,
“Respondent [Senguttuvan] has committed a grave professional misconduct and has violated the Rule 22A of the Bar Council of India Rules under Part VI and Chapter II by betraying his own client and breaking the trust reposed on him by the complainant, who is an orphan.”
The complainant was an orphan who had been introduced to Senguttuvan in order to take care of certain matters concerning house tax. In 2016, Senguttuvan is said to have made the complainant sign off on certain blank documents, which were represented to be in furtherance of a lease deed.
In time, it came to light that the documents comprised a sale deed for property valued at over Rs 1 crore. As opposed to the actual value of Rs 1 crore, the sale consideration mentioned was only Rs 40 lakh. While this was the case, the actual sale consideration mentioned as paid by Senguttuvan towards the sale agreement was a paltry Rs 4 lakh.
The complainant only became aware of the misdeed after his house was demolished on Senguttuvan’s instructions in 2017. When the complainant protested this action, Senguttuvan claimed himself to be the title holder and thereafter proceeded to deny any prior lawyer-client relationship between him and the complainant.
Taking serious note of Senguttuvan’s apparent misconduct, the Bar Council’s Disciplinary Committee records,
“When an innocent orphan was introduced to the respondent as an Advocate, it is the duty of the respondent to conduct himself to the satisfaction of the utmost confidence reposed on him by the complainant and is expected to act only in the interest of his client and not in his own interest at the cost of the interest of his client and the confidence reposed by his client on him….
…No conscience oriented advocate would come forward to enter into an argument that his client came forward to sell the house worth at least 1 1/2 crores, for a sum of Rs. 40 lakhs and permit him to take possession of the same on payment of 1/10th of the total sale consideration and further go down to the level or permitting the respondent even for demolition of the house property before even execution of the sale deed.”
The Disciplinary Committee proceeded to hold that Senguttuvan’s conduct constituted mischief within the definition of misconduct under Section 35 (1) of the Advocate’s Act, 1961. Its order records,
“He [Senguttuvan] has for his own profit attempted to cause a huge loss to his client who is none else than a helpless orphan…
As per rule 22 (A) of the Bar Council of India rules he should not have entered into the property transaction with his own client that too to the detriment of his own client.“
Therefore, with a view to send out a message against engaging in such misconduct, the Committee proceeded to restrain Senguttuvan from practicing in any court of law, tribunal or quasi-judicial tribunal in India for a five-year period.
To this end, Senguttuvan was also asked to surrender his Bar Council ID and enrolment certificate within two weeks of the order.
Read the Order: