D.K.Gandhi V M.Mathias 2007 CTJ 909 (CP)NCDRC
While National Commission had held in the matter of that services rendered by an advocate to his client in the course of litigation is to be covered under the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, SUPREME COURT bench comprising justice L.S Panta and Justce B Sudershan reddy stayed the ruling of Apex consumer commission holding that lawyers rendered legal assistance and not service to the client.It is further stated that bar council can take care in case of default on the part of their fellow advocate.
State commission,Delhi in the above matter had held on 10.3.2006 that advocates will not come within the ambit of consumer forums
National commission who dealt with the matter in details referring to number of judgements on the issue of services rendered by professionals . It referred to the case of Indian Medical Association V V.Shantha 1995,CTJ 969 SC ,the word profession and occupation was discussed at length .In the matter of professional’s, ability it was agreed that success cannot be achieved in every case Therefore if a doctor,the medical professional is unable to cure the disease ,should not be considered deficient in services .But surely he renders services defined under the CP Act,though it is also a noble profesion ,a life saver of a patient who banks upon the ability of a doctor for survival.In this case also it was argued that medical associations are there to take disciplinary action against the erring professional .
In the matter of Srimathi v union of India AIR 1996 Mad 427-that the fact that advocates are governed by the statutary enactment and rules framed thereunder are subject to the disciplinary control of the statutary body But it was held that “ there is no provision to enable the bar council to deal with the dispute between the advocate and the client to compensate him for the damages and refund the money.”
In the matter of K Vishnu v National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission had observed in 2000 that “even if the advocate is regarded as officer of the court and is a part of the justice system ,he cannot be set free from his basic role of services to his client for the consideration received “.
In the case of Methew Jackob v State of Punjab 2005 CTJ 1085 SC,wherein Apex court had held “that in law of negligence,professionals,such as lawers ,doctors, architects and others are included in the category of persons professing some special skill and professional may be held liable for negligence.”
Inspite of a good reasoned order pronounced by National Commission after detailed discussion as above in the case of D K Gandhi v M Mathias , on the issue, large number of advocate bodies ,bar of indian lawers,Delhi High Court bar association and Bar Council of India approached the Hon’ble SC and got the order stayed .
Should it be proper to exclude advocate absolving completely for their default in their duties because consumer court is held not available to the rescue to the consumer . We need to check with the concept with much care to deal with the subject .It is true that advocate is not a mere agent of his client but owe three fold duties unlike other profession –one to the public,another to the court and then to the client .It had been said in the case of State of U.P. V U.P. State law officers by the SC as back as in 1994 that advocate is a part of justice system and does not act as mouthpiece or agent of his client .Keeping in view the above duties of the advocate ,one must see what duty the advocate has breached .If an advocate breaches the duty towards the public ,should he be pardoned .If he commits such a mistake which is not in the interest of court ,should he not be made answerable ,he been considered as part of justice system.Now the question is not limited to the services rendered to the client for the money charged .If he has been allotted a big size and honorable position and considered a part of justice system ,then it becomes his duty to do every thing to help the court and justice system .He might have to go out of the way also to catch the lacuna in the system and remove it .His not attending the court may not make him answerable to the client under consumer protection act but cannot escape the duty of a court officer.If he plays fraud and induldges into unethical acts ,his default to the court is much more than deficiency in services under this act .Once the court has said no case of deficiency in services against advocate ,it is for sure it is complete no to it. But it is a bigger responsibility of an advocate to shoulder lwith dignity and integrity and must show his honesty to the public as well as to the court who has given him a king size stature. Advocates need to re-look on their stature ,admire it and preserve it .
DR PREM LATA