The concept of the word “Proxy Counsel,” literally means that, the attorney who is not the actual lawyer but acts in the information of the filing attorney on behalf. There is no particular law on proxy counsel and there is simply no legal definition, we may say this because there is no definition specified in The Advocates Act, 1961 as “proxy counsel.” This platform is not at all related in providing legal counsel for clients whereas, As nouns the difference between proxy and attorney is that proxy is an agent or substitute authorized to act for another person or one that advises or represents others as a profession in legal matters. Proxy Counsel as a matter of fact refers to someone who is authorised to serve in one’s place especially as a substitute counsel with the right to vote and equal recognition as given to the former counsel. It is considered to be a written authority to act or vote in someone’s position. A proxy is also used as a tool for shareholders to cast ballots at a general meeting, or used as a standby counsel during a court hearing.
The evolution of the concept of Proxy counsel was developed by Law Rato, the background in simple wordings is that, usually there are instances when an advocate on record is stuck, in some or the other case or proceedings and if he cannot make it to the court on time for his client’s pleadings, in matters of those cases he/she must have the power or choice to appoint a “proxy counsel” to handle the situation upon his absence. The proxy counsel functions differently, which means that the actual filing counsel may appoint an advocate on their behalf with the issuance of a proper “Vakalatnama,” a vakalatnama is a document authorizing a lawyer to act for and on behalf of the filing advocate on record and his clients. The enforcement and operation of proxy counsel is very limited and in the case of Ignou v. M/S. Bluestar Pvt Ltd. The court had mentioned the powers bewitched by proxy counsel was only limited to prohibit the defendant from obtaining an extension of time simply for demanding and to compensate the complainant for the delay and inconvenience which he had caused.
But, on the contrary in the same year this ideology was refused and quashed by the National commission of India and also the Supreme Court of India held that this practice of “proxy counsel’s” cannot be permissible in the Indian Court of law. In the case of Sanjay Kumar v. the State of Bihar, the bench of 3 judges of the Supreme Court held that neither the party nor the actual counsel was entitled to nominate a proxy counsel and wasted the court’s time, because the defendant who filed the case had not filed a proper Vakalatnama and the court also claimed that such unbacked counsel was not entertained by any means. A proxy counsel who has no mention under the Advocates Act, 1961 should not be allowed to be present and represent him at the place of filing counsel because he may waste the court’s time and because he is not aware of the facts and the procedures followed in court. The SC observed that since there is no such term as “proxy counsel” under the 1961 Advocates Act, the party is thus obtained from appointing any proxy counsel.
Only a Licensed counsel has the authority to represent individuals in court proceedings and other legal matters. A conscientious client considers a variety of factors when hiring a lawyer, including the complexity and value of the case, fee and payment terms for the lawyer, personal relationship with the lawyer and the credibility of the lawyer. If proxy lawyers become permissible in the court of law the while process of filing a Vakalatnama and the proceedings of the courts which used to be followed since the very beginning of time if to be questioned. An attorney is obliged to serve his client’s interest in an ethical manner and the client is obliged to pay the duties owed to the attorney. Some lawyers pursue an approach to assembly line and withhold their clients’ knowledge about their court-discussed matters. Most of the time, the clients don’t have any idea about the next move or whatever else is needed from their end. In such cases, a proxy lawyer may come handy in order to provide a neutral feedback to the client about the court proceedings their further plan of action in the next hearing etc.
In my opinion there is no need for proxy councils to be submitted in the court of law because there already exist junior councils under the advocates who are present at the hearings, who works under the filing counsel who is well aware of the facts and processing’s of the case who also assists the court in such matters. Recently Delhi high court in the case of Nitika Gupta vs Sudha Gupta has also stated that these juniors counsel cannot be treated as a proxy counsel and they are ought to be heard and with their voice effective orders can be passed. Allowing junior counsel to learn with proper knowledge on the basis of the grant of senior counsel will develop a healthy condition for junior lawyers and withstand delays that must also not create chaos in the respected courtroom. This ideology makes far more sense than appointing an arbitrary proxy counsel in the court of law.
Lastly, to conclude proxy councils should not be allowed to make submissions in the court of law as such a direction Such a course is, in fact, poor and without any Jurisprudence. This is also arbitrary and unconstitutional, because it prohibits a competent lawyer registered in the rolls of a State Bar Council from taking his case before the National Commission. This also violates Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution, which is the basic right to practice his profession. Similarly, pursuant to Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961, the Advocate, having been registered, has the right to appear before the courts or any other authority and is therefore subject to a restriction on the right of the Advocate. Thus, making it a violation of fundamental right.
This article is written by Akshaya Chintala, B.A. LL.B. student at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.
Also Read – Who Can be an Advocate on Record?