An FIR has been registered against the President of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association, Advocate Saiby Jose Kidangoor in relation to allegations that he accepted money from his clients to bribe Kerala High Court judges.

The FIR was registered under Section 420 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 by the Ernakulam Central Police Station on Wednesday, to be reported before the Court of the Enquiry Commission and Special Judge (Vigilance), Moovattupuzha.

While Section 420 of the IPC relates to cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, Section 7 of the PC Act relates to a public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act.

Under the PC Act, a Public Servant includes any person who holds an office by virtue of which he is authorised or required to perform any public duty, while Public Duty means a duty in the discharge of which the State, the public or the community at large has an interest.

It is not clear if a Lawyer would come within the definition of a Public Servant. As it now stands, there is no allegation in the public domain that the bribe that Advocate Saiby Kidangoor allegedly took from his clients was given to any Judge of the Kerala High Court.

The FIR says that Advocate Saiby Kidangoor collected money from his clients between 19 July, 2020 and 29 April, 2022 stating that it is to be given to Judges who will hear the cases, with an intention to make unlawful gain and thereby cheated his clients and the parties on the opposite side and acted against the rule of law.

It is not clear how the parties on the opposite side were cheated, if the bribe was never given to any judge and it did not influence the outcome of the case.

Also, as per information available in the public domain, the clients of Advocate Saiby Kidangoor have not given any statement against him and are supporting his stand that he has only collected his professional fees from his clients. It is not clear as to who is the victim of the offence under Section 420 of IPC.

The FIR also says that many Lawyers of the High Court have complained to the Registrar General of the High Court against Advocate Saiby Kidangoor and that the State Police Chief ordered an inquiry through the Ernakulam City Police Commissioner, upon the complaint of the Registrar General. As per the FIR, it was registered based on the preliminary enquiry report of the Police Commissioner.

Earlier, the High Court had recalled its order granting bail to the accused in a case, who were represented by Advocate Saiby Kidangoor and with respect to which case, there was an allegation that Saiby Kidangoor collected Rupees 50 Lakhs from the accused to bribe the High Court Juge to obtain a favourable order.

Based on a letter from the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Bar Council of Kerala had initiated an inquiry against the President of the Kerala High Court Advocates' Association.