Bar Council suspends lawyer’s license for wearing band in public | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Bar Council suspends lawyer’s license for wearing band in public

ByK A Y Dodhiya
Mar 29, 2023 12:45 AM IST

Section 35 of Advocates Act, 1961, provides for punishment of advocates for misconduct. It states that, where on receipt of a complaint or otherwise a State Bar Council has reason to believe that any advocate its roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.

MUMBAI: The disciplinary committee of the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG) has suspended the practice license of advocate Gunratan Sadavarte for a period of two years after holding the lawyer guilty of misconduct under section 35 of the Advocates Act.

Mumbai, India - November 25, 2021: Advocate Gunratan Sadavarte addresses the MSRTC workers by extending his support to their demands during their ongoing strike, at Azad Maidan, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, November 25, 2021. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/ HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)
Mumbai, India - November 25, 2021: Advocate Gunratan Sadavarte addresses the MSRTC workers by extending his support to their demands during their ongoing strike, at Azad Maidan, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, November 25, 2021. (Photo by Bhushan Koyande/ HT Photo) (HT PHOTO)

The complaint against the lawyer stated that the advocate wore official attire of an advocate i.e a black coat with band at public events including an agitation by Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) employees last year. A member of the BCMG confirmed the suspension, but the copy of the decision will be made available in due course.

After advocate Sushil Manchekar, former president of the Pimpri Court Bar Association, lodged a complaint against Sadavarte with the BCMG, a three-member committee initiated disciplinary proceedings against him.

The committee comprising of BCMG chairman Gajanan Chavan and advocates Kaiser Ansari and Sangram Desai heard the complaint wherein it was alleged that Sadavarte made “obnoxious” statements during the MSRTC employee’s strike and misled protestors which resulted in many protestors committing suicide.

Thereafter the BCMG on February 7, 2023 issued a notice to Sadavarte informing him about the disciplinary proceedings to enquire into complaints against him and asked him to respond to the complaint. The lawyer, however, filed a petition in the Bombay high court challenging the proceedings.

In his response to the complaint about wearing a band in public places, Sadvarte stated that a similar complaint was filed against him by Maratha reservation activists and same came to be dismissed, and hence present proceedings on the same grounds would amount to “double jeopardy.”

The response added that the second inquiry was based on political vendetta and would frustrate the spirit of the Advocates Act as he had represented the petitioner who had challenged the Maratha reservation, which has been struck down by the Supreme Court.

The HC had, however, refused to interfere in the disciplinary proceedings and stated that Sadvarte could not be given any special treatment merely for being an advocate and alleging that the complaint was politically motivated. The court also held that there was no infirmity in the notice issued by the BCMG wherein he was asked to remain present before the panel.

Section 35 of Advocates Act, 1961, provides for punishment of advocates for misconduct. It states that, where on receipt of a complaint or otherwise a State Bar Council has reason to believe that any advocate its roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.

According to the rules an advocate should not wear bands or gowns in public places other than in Courts, except on such ceremonial occasions and such public places as the Bar Council of India or as a Court may prescribe.

Sadavarte has been an active advocate who had filed an interim application on behalf of a petitioner in the Maratha Reservation petition which was heard at length by the division bench of Bombay HC headed by justice Ranjit More.

The petition filed by his wife, Dr Jayashri Patil, in the Bombay HC seeking directions against Malabar Hill police station for not registering her complaint against former home minister Anil Deshmukh became the ground for the court to direct the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the allegations of corruption levelled by former Mumbai police commissioner Param Bir Singh. The enquiry eventually led to registration of the FIR by the central agency against Deshmukh.

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