THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND ANOTHER.
RANASINGHE, J. ANDRODRIGO, J.
RE-ENROLMENT NO. A 8189,
11 OCTOBER 1984
Attorney-at-Law – Application for re-enrolment – Conditions necessary.
A petitioner who seeks re-enrolment must adduce cogent proof that he hasredeemed his character which he had once lost. The period of good characterpreceding application must be long enough. An application prematurely madewill not be allowed.
Cases referred to:
In Re Monerasinghe 4 CWR 370.
In the matter of an application of C. J. J. Seneviratne for re-admission as anAdvocate 30 NLR 209.
In re S. V. Ranasinghe 45 CLW 26,27.
APPLICATION for re-admission and re-enrolment as an Attorney-at-Law.
S. Sinnatamby with M. Wimalaswaram for petitioner.
K. M. M. B. Kulatunga, P.C. Solicitor-General with Sarath Silva D.S.G. for Attorney-General.
Eric Amerasinghe, RC. with W. P. Gunatilake for Bar Association.
Cur adv vult.
26th October, 1984.
This is an application. by the petitioner for re-admission andre-enrolment as an Attorrtey-at-Law.
N. Sivaguru by petition dated 27th January 1967 complained tothe Magistrate of Vavuniya that he had retained the petitioner in June,1964 for the purpose of filing an action to exercise his right of pre-emption in regard to an undivided portion of land co-owned by himand his sister of which the undivided share of the sister had beensold by her to another, and that he had for the purpose of making adeposit in that action for pre-emption handed over to the petitioner asum of Rs. 5000/- on the 20th of June, 1964 for which the petitionergave him a receipt but that the petitioner had not deposited that sumof money or any part thereof in the action.
The Disciplinary Committee of the Law Society held an inquiry intothis allegation upder section 17A of the Courts Ordinance and heldthat the petifibrier had misappropriated and converted the sum ofRs. 5000/- to his own use and that he was guilty of an offence and/ormalpractice. The Committee recommended to the Supreme Courtthat disciplinary action be taken against the petitioner. The SupremeCourt granted the petitioner time to refund this money but thepetitioner did not avail himself of the opportunity of refunding thismoney in full.
When this case came up before the Supreme Court on the 14th ofJune 1977 Counsel appearing for the petitioner informed Court thathe was npt-.cpntesting the facts as found by the DisciplinaryCommittee and he asked for two months time to pay the balancedue.
When this matter came up before the Supreme Court again on the31st March of 1978 Learned Counsel for the petitioner resiled fromhis earlier position and submitted that the facts as found by theDisciplinary Committee did not warrant disciplinary action. Thissubmission was rejected by the Supreme Court and the LearnedChief Justice in his judgment dated 31st March 1978, with which theother two judges agreed, held that the Disciplinary Committee came
to a correct finding. The Learned Chief Justice took a serious view ofthis case and ordered that the petitioner be removed from office andhis name be struck off the roll of Attorneys-abLaw githis Court.
In the present application by the petitioner he has attached ahaffidavit (P4) of the complainant N. Sivaguru, who avers that on the31st March of 1978 the petitioner paid him the balance amount of theprincipal sum and’ that op the same date the petitioner gave him acheque dated 3rd July. 1978 for the sum of Rs. 2000/- which was dueto him as interest on the principal of Rs. 5000/-. On 1st July 1978 thepetitioner paid him in cash a sum of Rs. 2000/- and he returned thecheque to the petitioner.
In support of his application for re-admission the petitioner filedtwo certificates, one from Mr. S. R. Kanaganayagam, President of theBar Association of Jaffna and another from Mr. C. C. Somasegeram,Attorney-at-Law, Jaffna.
Mr. S. R. Kanaganayagam, stated in his Certificate dated 7thJanuary 1984 that during the last five years the petitioner was activelyinterested in social work and that he was a Trustee of the KokuvilNanthavil Katpulathu Manonmany Amman Temple and Patron of theRural Development Society of Kokuvil and that he also helps juniorpractitioners. Mr. Somasegeram in his undated certificate has statedthat there was a misunderstanding between the petitioner and hisclient and that as the petitioner lost the sight of both eyes there was adelay in refunding the sum of Rs. 5000/-. The petitioner however inhis affidavit has stated that he lost the sight of one eye and had acataract operation on the other eye and was disabled for six months.In the opinion of Mr. Somasegeram the petitioner would conducthimself with professional propriety if re-enrolled.
A long line of decisions of the Supreme Court in applications forre-enrolment has followed the dicta in In Re Monerasinghe(1> whereWood Renton, C.J. held that:-
“The view has been adopted that a Court which has the right toremove the name of a solicitor from the Rolls has also aninherent discretionary power to re-admit him, where he has
• subsequently, expiated, the offence of which be may have beenguilty and redeemed his character. . . The material now beforeus shows that; Mr. Monerasinghe has atoned for any errors thathe may have committed in 1897 by an unbroken subsequentcareer of honesty and industry."
In this case the application for re-enrolment wap made twenty yearsafter the applicant was struck off the Rolls. It was' allowed.
In the matter of an application of C. C. J. Seneviratne to beadmitted and enrolled an Advocate of the Supreme Court,(2) thepetitioner was convicted and sentenced for cheating. On 22ndFebruary 1922 he was struck off the Rolls. His application for re-admission was made in December 1929, only six years later. Heannexed twelve certificates to his petition testifying that he devotedhimself to social service work and. had reconstructed his life. It washeld that the application was premature. Although his convictionmight have had the salutary effect of awakening in the applicant ahigher sense of honour or duty, the period during which his conductwas testified to by the certificates as being irreproachable was notlong enough to be deemed to be a guarantee sufficient’for him to besafely entrusted again with the affairs of clients and admitted to anhonourable profession without that profession suffering degradation.
in re S. V. Ranasinghe (3)Gratiaen, J. observed that:-
“All of them (judicial decisions) remind us that this Court, indealing with these applications, must not be influenced eitherby punitive or by sympathetic considerations. Our duty must bemeasured by the rights of litigants who may seek advice from aprofessional man admitted or re-admitted to the Bar by thesanction of the Judges of the Supreme Court. It is alsomeasured by the right of the profession, whose trustees we are,to claim that we should satisfy ourselves that re-enrolment willnot involve some further risk of degradation to the reputation ofthe Bar.”
It was also held in this case that the petitioner had, to offer cogentproof that he had redeemed his character which be feSd once lost.
Bearing these principles in mind and applying them to thecircumstances of this case, I hold that this application is premature. Ialso hold that the material placed before this Court that the petitionerhas redeemed his character is inadequate, the petitioner has takennearly fourteen years.to refund the sum of Rs. 5000/- in full. Thematerial before this Court falls far short of the cogent proof necessaryto support an application for re-enrolment.
The application is refused.
RANASINGHE, J. – / agree.
RODRIGO, J. – / agree.
ARUMUGAM v. THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND ANOTHER