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Advocate raises voice against judge & throws case files ;Karnataka HC initiates contempt proceedings [Read Order]

In a dramatic turn of events, the Karnataka High Court recently took action against a lawyer who, in response to the dismissal of an application, engaged in disrespectful behavior towards the court. Justice KS Hemalekha initiated contempt proceedings against the lawyer who, after the rejection of the application, not only threw files in dismay but also made derogatory comments directed at the court.

The court highlighted the lawyer’s rude behavior on multiple occasions, stating that despite previous instances of arrogance, the court had accommodated his presence. The order noted that the petitioner’s counsel had consistently prolonged the proceedings by filing numerous applications, as evident from the order sheet.

Expressing serious concern, the court initiated suo motu contempt proceedings based on various grounds, including the lawyer’s misbehavior, arrogance, backtalk, and violation of court rules. The court emphasized that such actions undermine the dignity of the court and hinder the administration of justice.

“The act and conduct of the advocate tend to undermine the dignity of the Court and hinder the due course of judicial proceedings or administration of justice. The cumulative acts of the advocate would amount to undermine the dignity and majesty of the Court apart from interference with the court’s normal proceedings and procedures,” the order stated.

In response to these actions, the court directed the Registrar (Judicial) to take necessary steps to initiate suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against Advocate M. Veerabhadraiah under Section 2(c) of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The court requested the Registrar to present this order before the Karnataka High Court Chief Justice for appropriate orders.

This incident unfolded on February 5, following the court’s dismissal of a plea by Annadurai, who aimed to counter a caveat plea submitted on behalf of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). The BEL’s caveat petition, filed by its General Manager, sought notification of any case against BEL. The petitioner’s application was rejected, accompanied by a ₹10,000 cost to be paid to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority within four weeks. Subsequently, the court instructed the petitioner to argue the main dispute on merits, leading to the lawyer’s objection and disruptive behavior.

Foreign law firms’ entry in India: Delhi HC seeks BCI’s response in plea challenging move

In New Delhi, the Delhi High Court has issued a notice in response to a plea challenging a notification released by the Bar Council of India (BCI) last year, which allowed the entry of foreign law firms and lawyers into India. The court, presided over by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, has summoned responses from both the BCI and the central government.

The court has set April 24 as the date for the hearing, seeking the BCI’s perspective on the plea. The case revolves around the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, introduced by the BCI last year. These rules permit the registration and practice of non-litigious law matters in India by foreign lawyers.

The plea questions the BCI’s authority under the Advocates Act of 1961 to grant such permissions, contending that, according to the current law, only advocates enrolled with the BCI are authorized to practice law in India.

Initially, the Bar Council of India opposed the entry of foreign lawyers and law firms in any form. However, in Joint Consultative Conferences between 2007-14, it was collectively decided by the BCI, State Bar Councils, and other stakeholders to explore this avenue. In September 2022, discussions between representatives from the Law Society of England and Wales, the U.K. government’s international trade department, and Indian law firm representatives took place, advocating for the removal of restrictions on foreign lawyers practicing in India.

In response, the BCI issued rules in March 2023, permitting foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law, international law, and international arbitration matters in India, strictly under the principle of reciprocity. Notably, they are not allowed to appear in Indian courts. However, the plea raises concerns about the absence of a mutual arrangement between India and the countries whose law firms are permitted to operate in India, arguing that the BCI’s decision violates the principle of reciprocity. The plea emphasizes that opening up law practice in India to foreign lawyers will contribute to the growth of the legal profession in the country.