Legal Integrity: Rajasthan High Court Warns Against Unethical Client Directives

During a recent hearing, Justice Anil Kumar Upman emphasized that advocates must not blindly follow unethical or illegal instructions from clients. The observation came during a case seeking the quashing of an FIR under various sections of the IPC. The bench highlighted the duty of advocates to provide honest counsel, even if it contradicts the client’s wishes. Additionally, advocates are reminded of their responsibility to their clients, the court, and the pursuit of justice.

Here’s the full story:

  • The complainant, identified as respondent No.2, filed a complaint under Section 156 (3) of CrPC with the Metropolitan Magistrate in Jaipur, alleging that the petitioner induced him to deliver material against advanced payment using proforma invoices.
  • The complaint stated that despite paying the advance amount, the petitioner neither supplied the material nor refunded the advance.
  • Furthermore, the complainant alleged that the petitioner made fraudulent entries in the books of accounts and misappropriated funds.
  • Subsequently, the trial court referred the matter to the police for investigation, leading to the registration of an FIR against the accused petitioner for offenses under Sections 409, 420, 468, 471, and 120B of the IPC.
  • The court noted a longstanding business relationship between the petitioner and the complainant, spanning from 2017 to 2022.
  • The complainant’s complaint detailed an advance payment made in 2017, but the petitioner failed to deliver goods or return the advance, allegedly through forged invoices.
  • The court questioned the credibility of the complainant’s sudden initiation of criminal proceedings against the petitioner, given their previous business dealings without complaints or legal actions.
  • It stated that the complaint did not establish the alleged offenses against the petitioner and highlighted the improper expansion of a commercial dispute into criminal charges.
  • The court warned against the growing trend of converting civil disputes into criminal offenses, advocating for a clear distinction between civil and criminal matters.
  • It emphasized the need for advocates to uphold ethical standards and resist unethical or illegal instructions from clients, prioritizing justice over client demands.
  • Quoting previous Supreme Court rulings, the court suggested the quashing of criminal proceedings arising from civil or commercial disputes to prevent abuse of legal processes.
  • Consequently, the court quashed the FIR and subsequent proceedings against the petitioner, citing the potential abuse of legal processes if continued.

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About the Author: Payal Singh