Do I have a Right to Defend my own Case in the Court of Law?

  • August 1, 2017
  • 9:25 am
  • Vaishnavi Sen

Section 32 of the Advocate’s Act clearly mentions, the court may allow any person to appear before it even if he is not an advocate. Therefore, one gets the statutory right to defend one’s own case through Advocate Act in India. This rule is subject to certain exceptions.

Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees certain freedoms to the citizens of this country which includes right to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business. It, therefore, naturally follows that the right to practise law, which is a profession, is a fundamental right that is conferred upon all citizens of this country.

Therefore, it can be said that the person has right to appear in any court in India. There are exceptions based on general rules that are only regulatory in nature and the main purpose is to impose reasonable restrictions in the interest of general public.

Every citizen who is involved in legal battles has the right to plead a case in the court of law in person without the help of a lawyer.  The better person who can plead the case and submit every view point regarding the case with the authority is himself/herself. It does not matter whether you are an advocate or not. Every petitioner has a primary right to contest any of your civil or criminal cases even without the help of an advocate.

Every court has their rules which serve as a guideline for procedure implementation and these rules also talks about contending case without an advocate.

Rules are regulatory provisions and do not impose a prohibition on the practice of law.These Rules prescribe that a person who is not an advocate in the High Court is obligated to file an appointment along with a local advocate. There is no absolute bar to appear.

In fact, with the leave of the Court, a non-advocate is still permitted to appear even without a local advocate. Also, an advocate who is not on the roll of advocates in the High Court can appear along with a local advocate.

Alternatively, even without fulfilling this requirement, an advocate who is not on the rolls of advocates in the High Court can move an application before the Court seeking leave to appear without even a local advocate and in appropriate cases, such a permission can be granted.

Few Courts where It is Compulsory to Fight Your Own Case and No Advocates are Allowed

Rule 37 of the Family Court (Rules) 1988 empowers the Court to permit the parties to be represented by a lawyer in Court.

While interpreting section 13 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 and Rule 37 of the Family (Court) Rules, 1988, in LalaMahadeo Joshi v. DrMahadeoSitaram Joshi, a Division Bench of this Court held that section 13 of the Family Courts Act, 1984 does not prescribe a total bar to represent by a legal practitioner which would itself be unconstitutional.

The Court also observed that refusing permission to be represented by a legal practitioner may inevitably result in a possible miscarriage of justice.

In Kishorilal Govindram Bihani v. Dwarkabai Kishorilal Bihani reported, the court reiterated that the party may be permitted to be represented by a lawyer before Family Courts considering the complexities of the case.

Thus, even where the statute contained a provision of an express bar for representation through legal practitioner without permission of the Court, Courts have held that such permission should not be normally be denied.

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 contains no provision which bars the representation of the parties by a legal practitioner. On the other hand, there is an indication in the Explanation to sub-section (8) to section 31 suggesting that appearance by lawyers is permitted.

 

No Need of a Lawyer in Consumer Forum

A review of the provisions of the Act discloses that the quasi-judicial bodies/authorities/agencies created by the Act known as District Forums, State Commissions and the National Commission are not courts though invested with some of the powers of a civil court. They are quasi-judicial tribunals brought into existence to render inexpensive and speedy remedies to consumers.

It is equally clear that these forums/commissions were not supposed to supplant but supplement the existing judicial system. The idea was to provide an additional forum providing inexpensive and speedy resolution of disputes arising between consumers and suppliers of goods and services.

The forum so created is uninhibited by the requirement of court fee or the formal procedures of a court. Any consumer can go and file a complaint. The complaint need not necessarily be filed by the complainant himself; any recognised consumers’ association can espouse his cause.

Where a large number of consumers have a similar complaint, one or more can file a complaint on behalf of all.

Even the Central Government and State Governments can act on his/their behalf.

The idea was to help the consumers get justice and fair treatment in the matter of goods and services purchased and availed by them in a market dominated by large trading and manufacturing bodies.

Indeed, the entire Act revolves around the consumer and is designed to protect his interest. Even a consumer can argue his own case under the provision of Consumer Protection Act.

Same is the provision for arguing before Industrial Disputes Act, the Income Tax Act and the Sales Tax Act or the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act. Such instances can be multiplied.

An advocate is only a substitute and according to the order Three of Civil Procedure Code. According to that order, an advocate is an attorney who is a person appointed to act for the petitioner. For the appearance of a person on the court, it is not necessary to have a law degree at all.  If a petitioner engages another person for pleading the case, it is also not necessary that the other person is to be a lawyer.  But in such cases, it is important to get the permission of the court.

For criminal cases, no trial will begin until before an accused is given an opportunity to engage a lawyer. If the accused is not in a position to engage a lawyer, the court will give him the services of an ‘Amicus Curie’. It is an advocate who is asked by the Court to represent the case for the offender. The money for the case will be given by the court.

If the accused neither engages the advocate nor takes the services of ‘Amicus Curie’, the Judge will himself examine the witness. Also, the accused has the right to cross-examine the witnesses by him.

A foreigner can also approach the Indian Courts without the help of an advocate. For those who have illegally come to India or who are detained after crossing the border have the right to seek justice according to this provision. They can also plead for the liberty if detained is beyond the period of detention.