This is a wonderful judgment from Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on two aspects
(a) Has the advocate a lien for his fees on the litigation papers entrusted to him by his client?
(b) Does the client has freedom to choose and engage a advocate and change the advocate?
Thus, even after providing a right for an advocate to deduct the fees out of any money of the client remaining in his hand at the termination of the proceeding for which the advocate was engaged, it is important to notice that no lien is provided on the litigation files kept with him. In the conditions prevailing in India with lots of illiterate people among the litigant public it may not be advisable also to permit the counsel to retain the case bundle for the fees claimed by him. Any such lien if permitted would become susceptible to great abuses and exploitation.
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R.D. Saxena Vs Balram Prasad Sharma on 22 August, 2000
A litigant must have the freedom to change his advocate when he feels that the advocate engaged by him is not capable of espousing his cause efficiently or that his conduct is prejudicial to the interest involved in the lis, or for any other reason. For whatever reason, if a client does not want to continue the engagement of a particular advocate it would be a professional requirement consistent with the dignity of the profession that he should return the brief to the client. It is time to hold that such obligation is not only a legal duty but a moral imperative.
In criminal cases, every person accused of an offence has the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice which is now made a fundamental right under Article 22(1) of the Constitution. The said right is absolute in itself and it does not depend on other laws. In this context reference can be made to the decision of this Court in State of Madhya Pradesh vs. Shobharam and ors. (AIR 1966 SC 1910). The words of his choice in Article 22(1) indicate that the right of the accused to change an advocate whom he once engaged in the same case, cannot be whittled down by that advocate by withholding the case bundle on the premise that he has to get the fees for the services already rendered to the client.
If a party terminates the engagement of an advocate before the culmination of the proceedings that party must have the entire file with him to engage another advocate.
Citations : [2000 AIR SC 3049], [2001 ALLMR CRI SC 375], [2000 ALT SC 5 1], [2001 BLJR 1 174], [2000 CTC 3 757], [2001 GLH 3 624], [2000 JT SC 9 432], [2000 KLT SC 3 438], [2001 LW 1 284], [2001 MHLJ SC 1 23], [2000 MPLJ SC 613], [2000 PLJR 4 161], [2000 RD 91 692], [2000 SCALE 6 42], [2000 SCC 7 264], [2000 SUPP SCR 2 598], [2001 UJ 1 27], [2000 UPLBEC 3 2404], [2000 AIR SC 2912], [2000 CTR 163 32]
Other Sources :
R.D. Saxena Vs Balram Prasad Sharma
Karnataka High Court Judgments:
Karnataka Power Distribution Vs M RajaShekar on 2 Dec 2016
Bhagya Vs Jayalakshmi on 13 Feb 2019