New Delhi: Lawyers cannot be held liable for criminal prosecution if their advice causes pecuniary loss to the client, unless they were part of a conspiracy in the fraudulent transaction, the Supreme Court has ruled.
The apex court said that professionals like lawyers, doctors and surgeons cannot be expected to give 100 per cent assurance to their clients or patients of success, unless there was a deliberate attempt to defraud the victim.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi passed the ruling dismissing an appeal filed by the CBI challenging a decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which quashed a criminal case filed by the agency against K Narayana Rao, panel advocate of public sector Vijaya Bank.
It was the case of the CBI that Rao along with officials of the bank and certain others had defrauded the bank to the tune of Rs 1.27 crore in the disbursal of housing loans.
"The only assurance which such a professional can give or can be given by implication is that he is possessed of the requisite skill in that branch of profession which he is practising and while undertaking the performance of the task entrusted to him, he would be exercising his skill with reasonable competence," Justice Sathasivam writing the judgement said.
According to the CBI Rao and one C Ramdas, the valuer have failed to point out the actual ownership of the properties and to bring out the ownership details and name of the apartments in their reports and also the falsity in the permissions for construction issued by the Municipal Authorities vis-a-vis 22 housing loans.
"The ingredients of the offence of criminal conspiracy are that there should be an agreement between the persons who are alleged to conspire and the said agreement should be for doing of an illegal act or for doing, by illegal means, an act which by itself may not be illegal," the bench said.