Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Calcutta High Court quashes criminal case against lawyer who provided incorrect legal advice

The Calcutta High Court recently quashed criminal proceedings against an advocate accused of providing false and improper legal advice that was instrumental in sanction of a bank loan to a now Non-Performing Asset (NPA)-turned company.
The High Court said that this did not lead to the conclusion that the petitioner entered into a criminal conspiracy to submit a false report.

There is no allegation or material in the charge sheet that the petitioner made any wrongful gain from the co-accused persons or he had any pecuniary benefit for preparing a wrong search report in favour of the company.

The act of the petitioner in submitting a wrong report without examining the basic tenets of ownership and possession of the property reveals his want of professional skill for which he may be held negligent, but in absence of tangible material it would not imply that he conspired with the principal accused persons in defrauding the bank.” 

While quashing the proceedings against the petitioner, the Court placed reliance on the Supreme Court decision in Central Bureau of Investigation, Hyderabad v K Narayana Rao, in which it was held that,

Merely because his opinion may not be acceptable, he cannot be mulcted with the criminal prosecution, particularly, in the absence of tangible evidence that he associated with other conspirators. At the most, he may be liable for gross negligence or professional misconduct if it is established by acceptable evidence and cannot be charged for the offence under sections 420 and 109 IPC along with other conspirators without proper and acceptable link between them.”

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