This post is Part 1 of a series on the subject of Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette. The post has been contributed by Adv. Adeel Ahmed. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Professional Misconduct ‘ is something which every practicing advocate should be mindful of. But then Professional Misconduct as such has not been defined and it entails a mode of wrongful behaviour by the Advocate in the course of Court proceedings or outside the precincts of the Court.
Nonetheless, an advocate is expected to be righteous in her/his professional endeavours. That brings us down to what constitutes the right mannerisms expected of an Advocate:
The Bar Council of India Rules ( enacted by Bar Council of India by virtue of its power under Section 49 (1) (c) of the Bar Council of India Act (hereinafter referred to as “Rules”) states 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. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing obligation, an advocate shall fearlessly uphold the interests of his client and in his conduct conform to the rules hereinafter mentioned both in letter and in spirit. The Rules hereinafter mentioned contain canons of conduct and etiquette adopted as general guides, yet the specific mention thereof shall not be construed as a denial of the existence of others equally imperative though not specifically mentioned.”
Thus, from the above exhaustive definition, it can be inferred that an advocate is expected to be a good human who carries himself in the highest social esteem and character, and conducts himself in not only in his professional capacity but also in his personal regard, the manner befitting that of a gentleman – orderly and righteous. The advocate should be mindful of his position not only in the Bar, as a member of the prestigious fraternity but also as a respected member of civil society.
What is also important to infer from the aforesaid definition is that what may be construed to be correct for the average man, may still be wrong for the advocate, and (s)he is to be watchful of the fact that (s)he is watched upon as an exemplary fellow.
In Court, the advocate is not “a hired gun” who’ll mindlessly defend the interests of his client. But the advocate is an ‘officer of the Court’ who shall put forth just arguments weighing between the interests of her/his Client and at the same time, facilitating the process of meting out justice by the Courts, in rendering fair and honest assistance to the Court. However, in the pursuit of justice, the Advocate must refrain from being over enthusiastic for his Client and prestige and must adhere to the Canons of Conduct set forth in these Rules. These Canons summarise the mode and manner in which an Advocate is to conduct herself/himself with or without the euphony of robes.
Image from here