As the topic suggests, an ideal Court is one where there is convergence of what the Bench expects from the Bar and what the Bar expects from the Bench; there is harmonization of expectations.

The litigants represented by the Bar as well as the Bench are equal stakeholders in our judicial system; where there is no conflict of expectations inter se, there would be a just result in a free, fair and conducive environment. The following observations of the Apex Court aptly outline the relationship between the Bar and the Bench:

“……………… while the judges hold the reigns, the two opposite counsel are the wheels of the chariot. While the direction of the movement is controlled by the judge holding the reigns, the movement itself is facilitated by the wheels without which the chariot of justice may not move and may even collapse…………”

[D. P. Chadha vs. Triyugi Narain Mishra (2001) 2 SCC 221]

I am called upon to speak today on the “Role of the Authorized Representative”. Before the Tribunal, the taxpayer and the Revenue are represented by their respective A/Rs. It will be my endeavour to dwell on the attributes, qualities and conduct of the A/R which would help contribute to an ideal Court atmosphere.

The A/R have the duty to his client, duty to his opponent, duty to the Court, duty to the society at large and duty to himself. Insofar as his client is concerned, the A/R owes a fiduciary duty to his clients. It is incumbent upon the A/R to advice / defend the interest of his clients; at the same time the litigant has to be impartially and dispassionately advised by the A/R about the pros and cons of the litigation and the best course of action. The litigant reposes faith and trust in his A/R and shares with him privileged and confidential information. The A/R is expected to keep such information confidential and not divulge the same. Furthermore, the A/R must ensure that there is no breach of faith and trust reposed by the litigant in him.

Insofar as presenting the case of his client, the A/R is expected to conscientiously prepare the matter and present the same before the Court to the best of his ability. He is expected to put forth his best efforts to persuade the Court.

While being mindful of his duties and obligations, the A/R is also required to be aware of the limitations vested upon him in the exercise of his authority as a representative for his client.

The A/R, as explained by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of Uttar Pradesh vs. U.P. State Law Officers Association : [1994] 2 SCC 204 is not an agent of its client but is dignified and responsible spokesman. He demeans himself if he acts merely as a mouthpiece of his client. In other words, the A/R is expected to exercise diligence to present to the Court the correct facts and the legal position; he must not, under any circumstance, compromise his independence.

The relationship between the A/R and his client can be summed up in the following observations of the Apex Court may be extremely important:

“…………………The advocate represents the client before the court and conducts proceedings on behalf of the client. He is the only link between the court and the client. Therefore his responsibility is onerous. …………………”

[Himalayan Coop. Group Housing Society vs. Balwan Singh (2015) 7 SCC 373]

Then, there is a sense of duty owed by the A/R to his opponent. He has to be fair and not take advantage of the ignorance of the other side with respect to facts of the case or the position in law. The A/R is required to give space / time to the opponent to present his defence, without interruption. He is expected to be patient while his opponent is on his legs and not intimidate / browbeat the opponent.

The A/R, as a responsible officer of the Court has an overall obligation of assisting the Court in a just and proper manner for the administration of justice. The A/R is expected to marshal the facts of his case, be abreast of latest developments in law and place the same before the Court in a non-partisan manner in order to enable the Court to reach a just result. It is expected that the A/R would not suppress and / or distort facts and would fairly bring to the notice of the Court the position of law, even if, it is against the interest of his client. The A/R must not attempt to confuse or mislead the Court.

The Apex Court made the following illuminating observations in this respect:

“This obligation of a counsel flows from the confidence reposed by the court in the counsel appearing for any of the two sides. A counsel, being an officer of the Court, shall apprise the judge with the correct position of law whether for or against either party.”

[D.P. Chadha vs. Triyugi Narain Mishra: [2001] 2 SCC 221]

It is the duty of the A/R to place his point of view on behalf of his client in a lucid, coherent manner, bringing into focus the issue in dispute so as to avoid wasting the precious judicial time of the Court. It is expected that the A/R would have the grace to accept that the position of law is against his client and not waste unnecessary time of the Court in trying to defend an indefensible case.

Last but not the least – the A/R has above all duty to himself.

In Re: Vinay Chandra Mishra (supra); reiterated in Mohit Chaudhary, Advocate, in Re [2017] 16 SCC 78; also Ajay Kumar Pandey, In Re [1998] 7 SCC 248, the Apex Court observed that “a lawyer had to be a gentleman first. His most valuable asset is the respect and goodwill he enjoys among his colleagues and in the Court.”

To earn the respect and goodwill, it is necessary that the A/R –

– Is Humble

– Is Courteous to the Court and his opponent,

– Exercises restraint and responsible attitude towards the Court,

– Maintains dignity, order and decorum in the Court,

– Is dignified in his dealings with the Court, his fellow lawyers and the litigant,

– Has an unblemished character, credibility and integrity,

– Is fearless and independent,

– Avoid over-zealousness and misguided enthusiasm,

– Is not over attached to his case and the result,

– Is never knowingly a party to any deception, design or fraud.

To conclude, I would state that the A/R plays a vital role in the justice delivery system and is under an overall obligation to uphold the rule of law so as to ensure that the public justice system is able to function to its full potential. As a responsible officer of the Court, his satisfaction and contentment should flow from a job well done, to the best of his ability.

[Source : 79th Foundation day Celebration & All India Members’ Conference on 25th January, 2020 at Hotel The Ashok, New Delhi.]

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