The Bombay High Court has come heavily down on an Advocate who attempted to change a judicial order through Judge's Private Secretary.

Taking an exception to this act, the Bench of Justice Gauri Godse and Justice GS Patel observed thus "This is nothing but a sharp practice. It is conduct unbecoming and we express our grave displeasure at this attempt to change a judicial order pronounced in open court, and to do so without a hearing in court and without notice to the other side."

In this case, the Court had allowed the petitioner to withdraw a petition filed by Advocate Sachin Tigde against some demand made by the respondent-state.

This came after Advocate Tigde had argued the matter for a considerable period of time whereby he had prayed to the Court to allow a deposit of 50% of the demand. This submission was made before the Court at least four times. Following which, the Court held that it was not inclined to grant any such concession. Thereafter, Advocate Tigde withdrew the petition.

Since the petition was withdrawn, there was no occasion to make any observation regarding the 50% deposit submission.

Later in the evening, the Judge was informed that Advocate Tigde had approached the Private Secretary who had taken the dictation in court and had asked him to include a direction for a 50% deposit in the order.

The private secretary declined to do anything of the kind and sought directions from the senior staff who instructed that no change was to be made at the instance of an advocate to an order pronounced in open court.

Next day when Advocate Tigde was asked to explain such act, no answer was given except an apology.

Terming it a sharp practice, the Bench observed that "Had Mr Tigde succeeded in his endeavour, not only would the Respondent have been prejudiced, but its advocate would have been perfectly justified in complaining that an order was changed to something totally different from what was dictated and pronounced in open Court. And our secretarial staff might well have lost his job."

The Court warned the Advocate and held thus "He would do well to know from now on and for the rest of his time at the bar, that while he owes a duty to his client, he is first and foremost an officer of the Court and his primary duty is to the Court. For this one last time, we refrain from taking any stricter action against Mr Tigde. We do put him to notice that if there is a single instance hereafter, he will face the full brunt of the law."

In view of what had transpired, the Court directed the Court Associate to forward a copy of this order to the Registrar-General, the Registrar (OS) and the Prothonotary & Senior Master for issuing, if thought fit, appropriate instructions to all secretarial staff about entertaining requests from advocates and litigants.

Cause Title- Siddhi Real Estate Developers v. The State of Maharashtra & Anr

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