Whether Advocate can refuse to give "No Objection" to Client, if Client wishes to engage other Counsel ?

Civil Procedure Code, 1908, Order 3, Rule 4 (2) - Deletion of the name of the Counsel - Validity of - Application filed by the applicants who are the petitioner Nos. 5, 6 and 7 in the writ petition praying for deleting the name of their counsel, from their vakalatnama filed before this court - “No Objection” was not given by advocate on the ground that the engagement of another Advocate for the purpose of withdrawal from the writ petition would tantamount to making tacit aspersions against him

MANIPUR HIGH COURT

Before:- Mr. KH. Nobin Singh, J.
M.C. (W.P. (C)) No. 147 of 2016 (Ref:- W.P. (C) No. 202 of 2015). D/d. 8.7.2016.

Shri Ashem Shyamkesho Singh, aged about 43 years, S/o (L) A. Bikashaja Singh of Khumbong Makha Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Applicant
And
Shri Irengbam Jiten Singh, aged about 43 years, S/o I. Nabachandra Singh of Nairangbam Makha Maning Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Applicant
And
Shri Konsam Nandalal Singh, aged about 44 years, S/o (L) K. Babu Singh of Sagolband Meino Leirak, P.O. & P.S. Imphal, Imphal West District, Manipur(5, 6 and 7) - Applicant
Versus
Thokchom Ranjan Meetei, aged about 35 years, S/o Th. Tomboy Singh of Yurembam Makha Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent

And
Konthoujam Premjit Singh, aged about 43 years, S/o K. Ibopishak Singh of Konthoujam Ngairangbam Mayai Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Khuraijam Ibochou Singh, aged about 50 years, S/o Kh. Kh. Budhichandra Singh of Khumbong Awang Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Chingshubam Dewan Singh, aged about 41 years, S/o Ch. Shyamjai Singh of Konthoujam Makha Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Sagolshem Tomba Singh, aged about 45 years, S/o S. Biramangol Singh of Thangmeiband Hijam Dewan Leikai, P.O. & P.S. Imphal, Imphal West District, Manipur. FR/NFR - Respondent
And
Kabrabam Surchandra Singh, aged about 44 years, S/o (L) K. Sunadhon Singh of Keishampat Thiyam Leikai, P.O. & P.S. Imphal, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Taorem Iboyaima Singh, aged about 63 years, S/o T. Kulamchat Singh of Changangei Uchekon, P.O. Changangei, P.S. Lamphel, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Ngairangbam Shyamjai Singh, aged about 49 years, S/o Ng. Yaiskul Singh of Patsoi, Part - II, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Khumanthem Romio Singh, aged about 34 years, S/o Awangkhunou Mamang Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Ngangbam Ojit Singh, aged about 47 years, S/o Ng. Kullabidhu Singh of Singjamei Yuman Leikai, P.O. Imphal, P.S. Singjamei, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
Yumkhaibam Ingocha Singh, aged about 45 years, S/o Ng. Kullabidhu Singh of Singjamei Yuman Leikai, P.O. Imphal, P.S. Singjamei, Imphal West District, Manipur. - Respondent(Principal)
And
The State of Manipur represented by the Commissioner (Co-operation), Government of Manipur, P.O. & P.S. Imphal - Respondent
And
The Registrar of Societies, Manipur P.O. & P.S. Lamphel - Respondent
And
The Inspector, Co-operative Societies, P.O. & P.S. Lamphel - Respondent
And
The Manipur Social Service Organization Regd. No. 95/M/SR/2004, having its registered office at Lamphel Super Market, Imphal West, Manipur represented by its President, Shri Chingsubam Manitomba Angom, aged about 57 years, S/o (L) Tomcha Angom, a resident of Konthoujam Makha Leikai, P.S. Patsoi, P.O. Langjing, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
K. Ningthembir Singh, aged about 50 years old, S/o Late K. Jatra Singh of Chanam Sandrok, Thoubal District, Manipur - Respondent
And
M. Bedanta Singh, aged about 47 years old, S/o Late M. Ningthemjao Singh a resident of Kakching, Thoubal District, Manipur - Respondent(Official)
W.P. (C) No. 202 of 2015.
Thokchom Ranjan Meetei, aged about 35 years, S/o Th. Tomboy Singh of Yurembam Makha Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Konthoujam Premjit Singh, aged about 43 years, S/o K. Ibopishak Singh of Konthoujam Ngairangbam Mayai Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Khuraijam Ibochou Singh, aged about 50 years, S/o Kh. Kh. Budhichandra Singh of Khumbong Awang Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Chingshubam Dewan Singh, aged about 41 years, S/o Ch. Shyamjai Singh of Konthoujam Makha Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Ashem Shyamkesho Singh, aged about 43 years, S/o (L) A. Bikashaja Singh of Khumbong Makha Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Irengbam Jiten Singh, aged about 43 years, S/o I. Nabachandra Singh of Nairangbam Makha Maning Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Konsham Nandalal Singh, aged about 44 years, S/o (L) K. Babu Singh of Sagolband Meino Leirak, P.O. & P.S. Imphal, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Sagolshem Tomba Singh, aged about 45 years, S/o S. Biramangol Singh of Thangmeiband Hijam Dewan Leikai, P.O. & P.S. Imphal, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Kabrabam Surchandra Singh, aged about 44 years, S/o (L) K. Sunadhon Singh of Keishampat Thiyam Leikai, P.O. & P.S. Imphal, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Taorem Iboyaima Singh, aged about 63 years, S/o T. Kulamchat Singh of Changangei Uchekon, P.O. Changangei, P.S. Lamphel, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Ngairangbam Shyamjai Singh, aged about 49 years, S/o Ng. Yaiskul Singh of Patsoi, Part - II, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Khumanthem Romio Singh, aged about 34 years, S/o Awangkhunou Mamang Leikai, P.O. Langjing, P.S. Patsoi, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Ngangbam Ojit Singh, aged about 47 years, S/o Ng. Kullabidhu Singh of Singjamei Yuman Leikai, P.O. Imphal, P.S. Singjamei, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
And
Yumkhaibam Ingocha Singh, aged about 45 years, S/o Ng. Kullabidhu Singh of Singjamei Yuman Leikai, P.O. Imphal, P.S. Singjamei, Imphal West District, Manipur - Petitioner
Versus
The State of Manipur represented by the Commissioner (Co-operation), Government of Manipur, P.O. & P.S. Imphal - Respondent
And
The Registrar of Societies, Manipur P.O. & P.S. Lamphel - Respondent
And
The Inspector, Co-operative Societies, P.O. & P.S. Lamphel - Respondent
And
The Manipur Social Service Organization Regd. No. 95/M/SR/2004, having its registered office at Lamphel Super Market, Imphal West, Manipur represented by its President, Shri Chingsubam Manitomba Angom, aged about 57 years, S/o (L) Tomcha Angom, a resident of Konthoujam Makha Leikai, P.S. Patsoi, P.O. Langjing, Imphal West District, Manipur - Respondent
And
K. Ningthembir Singh, aged about 50 years old, S/o Late K. Jatra Singh of Chanam Sandrok, Thoubal District, Manipur - Respondent
And
M. Bedanta Singh, aged about 47 years old, S/o Late M. Ningthemjao Singh a resident of Kakching, Thoubal District, Manipur - Respondent
For the Applicant :- Shri Ph. Sanajaoba, Advocate.
For the Respondent :- Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate.
Manipur High Court

JUDGMENT AND ORDER
Mr. KH. Nobin Singh, J. - Heard Shri Ph. Sanajaoba, learned counsel appearing for the applicants and Shri Ng. Kumar, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners/respondents.
2. It is unfortunate that this court is called upon to decide an issue which has arisen out of the relation between the applicants and their counsel, Shri Ng. Kumar
, Advocate and has nothing to do with the merit of the case. Before bringing the issue to this court, the same could have been resolved amicably by them outside the court.
3. This is an application filed by the applicants who are the petitioner Nos. 5, 6 and 7 in the writ petition being W.P. (C) No. 202 of 2015 praying for deleting the name of their counsel, Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate from their vakalatnama filed before this court in the said writ petition on the ground that they have already disengaged him as their conducting counsel and accordingly, they requested him to issue a “No Objection” so that they could engage a new Advocate of their choice but to no effect. In other words, the said application appears to have been filed for determining the vakalatnama executed by them in favour of their counsel. Denying the averments made therein, a reply affidavit on behalf of the respondent Nos. 1 to 11 has been filed wherein it is stated that the applicants have not given any instruction to Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate for moving an application before this court for their withdrawal from the case or for deletion of their names from the array of parties and their request for giving “No Objection” was turned down by him on the ground that the engagement of another Advocate for the purpose of withdrawal from the writ petition would tantamount to making tacit aspersions against him inasmuch as people are very likely to falsely take that he has held up their instructions to withdraw from the case, thereby causing serious prejudice to his conduct and integrity. It is further stated therein that although it is the right or the discretion of the applicants to withdraw from the case or engage any Advocate of their choice but the same could not be allowed to be exercised whimsically without any reasonable cause inasmuch as such irresponsible action of unscrupulous litigants is likely to jeopardise the conduct and integrity of sincere Advocates who are none other than officers of the court and therefore, allowing the applicants to disengage him and appoint another Advocate in his place for the purpose of withdrawal from the case or for deletion of their names from the array of parties in the writ petition would, by no stretch of imagination, be a reasonable cause or a good ground. Accordingly, it has been prayed that the instant application be rejected in the interest of justice.
4. Although it is nowhere mentioned in the application that the same has been filed under the provisions of CPC, it is the provisions of Order 3, Rule 4 (2) of CPC which provide that appointment of an Advocate shall be filed in the court and shall be deemed to be in force until determine with the leave of the court by a writing signed by the client or the Advocate as the case may be. An Advocate does not only represent his client but he is also an officer of the court. In any matter in which he is engaged, he has to assist the court till his vakalatnama is determine in accordance with law. Order 3, Rule 4 (2) of CPC reads as under:-
    “(2) Every such appointment shall be filed in Court and shall, for the purposes of Sub-rule (1) be deemed to be in force until determine with the leave of the Court by a writing signed by the client or the pleader, as the case may be, and filed in Court, or until the client or the pleader dies, on until all proceedings in the suit are ended so far as regards the client.”
5. Relying upon the decision rendered by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of R.D. Saxena v. Balram Prasad Sharma, reported in (2000) 7 SCC 264, it has been submitted on behalf of the applicants that they have the right to appoint any Advocate of their choice and freedom to change their Advocate whenever they feel like. In the said R.D. Saxena case (supra) wherein the appellant was engaged by the Bank to conduct their cases in which the bank was a party and when the bank terminated the retainership, the appellant refused to return the files on the ground that he had a lien for his fees on the litigation papers entrusted to him by the bank, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held:
    “15. A litigant must have the freedom to change his advocate when he feels that the advocate engaged by him is not capable of espousing his cause efficiently or that his conduct is prejudicial to the interest involved in the lis, or for any other reason. For whatever reason, if a client does not want to continue the engagement of a particular advocate it would be a professional requirement consistent with the dignity of the profession that he should return the brief to the client. It is time to hold that such obligation is not only a legal duty but a moral imperative.”
    “(28) While dealing with the moneys or any other article or document entrusted, an advocate is expected to always keep in mind the high standards of profession and its values adopted and practised for centuries. ‘Professional obligations’ of a lawyer are distinguished from the ‘business commitments’ followed by trading community. The legal profession owes social obligations to the society in discharge of the profession services to the litigants. The Bar Council of India Rules provides that:
    “ An advocate shall, at all times, comport himself in a manner befitting his status as an officer of the Court, a privileged member of the community and a gentleman, bearing in mind that what may be lawful and moral for a person who is not a member of the Bar or for a member of the Bar in his non-professional capacity may still be improper for an advocate.”
6. In fact, the facts of the said R.D. Saxena’s Case are not exactly the same as that of the present case because in the present case, Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate has not refused to give “No Objection” on the ground that his fees have not been paid nor has he a lien for his fees on the litigation papers. The only reason as to why he declined to give “No Objection” is that the engagement of another lawyer for the purpose of their withdrawal from being the petitioners would tantamount to making tacit aspersions against him inasmuch as people are likely to falsely take that he has held up their instructions thereby causing prejudice to his integrity. In other words, all that he replied in his letter dated 21-04-2016 is that if the applicants wished to withdraw from the case and had instructed him for that purpose, he could have done that happily. But without doing that, the applicants had already engaged another Advocate before his appointment is determine in accordance with law and therefore, their action is unfair and unreasonable. To that extent, the stand of Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate appears to be correct and proper. There is no material on record to show that the applicants had ever approached him with the instruction that they wished to withdraw from the case and an appropriate action in respect thereof be taken by him. On the contrary, the applicants had engaged another Advocate through whom they moved the application being M.C.(W.P.(C)) No. 50 of 2016 praying for deleting their names from the array of parties in the writ petition. Even the new Advocate engaged by the applicants ought not to have accepted the instructions of the applicants for moving the said application in view of the provisions of the Bar Council of India Rules and in particular, Rule 39 of Chapter-II of Part-VI which reads as under:
    “39. An Advocate shall not enter appearance in any case in which there is already a vakalat or memo of appearance filed by an Advocate engaged for a party except with his consent; in case such consent is not produced, he shall apply to the court stating reasons why the said consent could not be produced and he shall appear only after obtaining the permission of the court.”
The normal conduct of a client is that if he wishes to change his counsel for some reason or the other, he should approach him for return of the brief and to obtain “No Objection” from him. In case his counsel returns the brief, it is well and good and if he refuses to return the brief or refuses to give “No Objection”, the client may invoke the provisions of Order 3, Rule 4 of the CPC to redress his grievances. However, in the present case, the applicants have failed to that and without determining the appointment of their earlier counsel, Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate, they had moved an application for deleting their names from the array of parties in the writ petition through another Advocate which is unfair and unreasonable on the part of the applicants. The moment an Advocate is engaged, a client is expected to be fair and reasonable to him and ought to give proper instructions accordingly. But in any case and for whatever reasons, the applicants have expressed their view that they don’t want Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate to continue as their counsel and that a new Advocate be engaged in his place and since the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the said R.D. Saxena’s Case (supra) has categorically observed that for whatever reason, if a client does not want to continue the engagement of a particular Advocate, it would be a professional requirement consistent with the dignity of the profession that he would return the brief to the client and it is time to hold that such obligation is not only a legal duty but a moral imperative, this court is of the view that this application is liable to be allowed. In view of the above observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, it is the duty of Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate to give “No Objection” so that the applicants could engage a new Advocate of their choice. If Shri Ng. Kumar, Advocate is of the view that the action of the applicants being unfair and unreasonable, has caused prejudice to his professional right and privilege as a counsel, it is open to him to seek appropriate relief and redress his grievance from an appropriate forum.
7. In view of the above and for the reasons stated herein above, the instant application is allowed subject to payment of Rs. 1000/- (Rupees one thousand) only as costs which shall be paid to the High Court Legal Services Committee, High Court of Manipur, Imphal within a week from today.
Application allowed.
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Location: Manipur, India

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