The Karnataka High Court has quashed the Order passed by the Bar Council of India suspending the practice of K.B Naik who is a former Chairman of Karnataka State Bar Council and also a sitting member of the said Council.

Justice M. Nagaprasanna observed that the petitioner-KB Naik was not heard while the Order was passed against him.

"It is said, God himself did not pass any sentence on Adam before calling upon him to make his defence for the act of having consumed the proscribed fruit in the Eden Garden. Therefore, God himself gave an opportunity of hearing to Adam and Eve before passing the sentence for consumption of the forbidden fruit. The principle has emerged since then.", the Court observed while quashing the Order and remitting the matter back to BCI.

The Petitioner had approached the Court while questioning the interim order passed by the Bar Council of India suspending him from practicing law in any Court in the country.

The allegations against the petitioner were that he had misused the signatures of his client and sold the property without the knowledge of his client.

The complainant had approached the BCI and the BCI sent a video conference link but he failed to appear and without hearing the petitioner the BCI passed an Order ruling that the petitioner is barred from practicing in Court.

Senior Advocate P.P. Hegde appeared for the petitioner whereas Advocates Shridhar Prabhu, Gautham A.R. and Kethan Kumar appeared for the Respondents.

The Court observed that the impugned order is not even sought to be communicated to the petitioner. The Court noted that the order is communicated only to three members – one the complainant, the other the Karnataka State Bar Council and the 3rd the Advocates for the complainant before the Bar Council of India.

The Court observed that the petitioner is the kernel of the complaint, notwithstanding that the order is not communicated to the petitioner.

"…adherence to principles of natural justice is recognized by all civilized States and civilized societies to be imperative, to be followed, when any judicial, quasi judicial or administrative body embarks upon determining the dispute between the parties or any order that would be passed resulting in civil consequences. As observed hereinabove, the bedrock of such acts are the principles of audi alteram partem and fair play in any action. Fair play in action is in effect grant of a fair hearing; fair hearing would be to have notice of the other sides case; right to bring evidence and right to argue. If these are not provided, the Court would step into nullify such acts…", the Court held.

In the light of the admitted fact that the petitioner was not heard in the matter and it being in blatant violation of the principles of natural justice, the Court quashed the impugned Order and remitted the matter back to the BCI.

The Court directed BCI to hear the petitioner and pass appropriate Orders.

Cause Title- KB Naik v. BCI & Ors.

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