The Supreme Court has pulled up a lawyer who, in his advice to his client, allegedly speculated about the outcome of a pending appeal before it.
Prima facie, this, in our opinion, is bordering on professional misconduct and needs to be proceeded with, the bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari said and directed the party to to file an affidavit and disclose the name of the said advocate.
The appeal before the Apex Court arose from an order of the Trial Court dismissing an application filed by a husband (plaintiff) seeking interim anti-suit injunction against his wife restraining her from initiating any proceeding against him in Superior Court of Arizona in Maricopa County. As the High Court also upheld the Trial Court order, the plaintiff-husband approached the Apex Court.
The Apex Court bench, disagreed with the views of both the Trial Court and the High Court and set aside the orders passed. It was observed thus:
“Be that as it may, during the pendency of the stated suit for declaration and for direction to handover custody of the minor child, an application had been moved by the appellant before the Trial Court which came to be rejected on the ground, that the Superior Court of Arizona was outside India and not subordinate to that court. This view noted by the Trial Court is completely erroneous and ill-advised. For, the relief claimed by the appellant was for grant of interim anti-suit injunction against the respondent and not against the Superior Court of Arizona, as such. When the matter traveled to the High Court at the instance of the appellant, even the High Court proceeded on an incorrect basis, that the courts in India could adjudicate the controversy between the parties, only after the Superior Court of Arizona would pass an order in the pending proceedings. That was not the purpose for which the ex parte ad interim relief was sought by the appellant. In any case, no judgment of this Court has been brought to our notice, which says that if the other party had already resorted to proceedings before another court including outside India, an anti-suit injunction cannot be issued even if the fact situation so warrants. In our opinion, both the Trial Court and the High Court mis-applied the legal position and committed manifest error, in rejecting the ad-interim relief claimed by the appellant against the respondent during the pendency of the proceedings between the parties before the Court at Bhopal.”
The bench then restrained the wife from proceeding with the pending suit instituted by her in the Superior Court of Arizona or to file any other proceedings, including interim application(s) in any proceedings hereafter (except in the proceedings pending in court at Bhopal) until further orders to be passed by the Court at Bhopal.
The court took note of a response given by the wife (respondent) in reference to the service of notice issued in the appeal in which it was stated that that her Attorney in India had advised her that the appeal pending before this Court will not succeed at all. Taking serious exception to this, the bench observed:
“We fail to understand as to how an advocate appearing in the matter or instructing the litigant who is party before the Supreme Court of India would be in a position to prejudge the outcome of the proceedings or if we may say so speculate about the outcome thereof. Prima facie, this, in our opinion, is bordering on professional misconduct and needs to be proceeded with. To take this issue to its logical end, we direct the respondent to file an affidavit and disclose the name of 6 the advocate from India, who had so advised the respondent and on the basis of which she was advised to take a stand before the Superior Court of Arizona, as noted in Annexure P-2 to the I.A. No. 6177 of 2021. This proceeding will be treated as suo moto action initiated by this Court. The respondent shall file affidavit within two weeks from today and the suo moto proceedings to be notified by the Registry on 05.02.2021.”
Citation: LL 2021 SC 32