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Is a lawyer bound to support an unjust cause

Is a lawyer bound to support an unjust cause

Gita Devi Vs State of Bihar

Patna HC


CIVIL REVIEW No.327 of 2018

About/from the judgment:

Is a Lawyer Bound to Support an Unjust Cause? The Patna High Court has recommended an article by A.S. Cutler in this regard.


The division bench, in its order, has reproduced the entire article, 'for the benefit of all' and to remind the lawyers their duties and ethical conduct in the matters of conducting cases.


The court was considering a review petition, in which the court noticed that some documents filed in support of a job application filed by the petitioner were fabricated. Later, after the court warned of penal consequences, the review petition was withdrawn by the lawyer.


This article published in American Bar Association Journal, (April, 1952 edition), attempts to answers these difficult questions faced by lawyer from a layman. They are:

How can you honestly stand up and defend a man you know to be guilty?

How can you defend a case when you know your client is wrong and really owes the money sought?


Cutler argues that lawyers must not take up cases in which he has no belief in his client's contention. The author also goes to the extent of saying that it is only when a lawyer really believes his client is innocent that he should undertake to defend him. The article reads:

"If a lawyer knows his client to be guilty, it is his duty in such case to set out the extenuating facts and plead for mercy in which the lawyer sincerely believes. In the infrequent number of cases where there is doubt of the client's guilt and the lawyer sincerely believes his client is innocent, he of course should plead his client's cause to the best of his ability."


He was of the view that the lawyer should not be merely a mechanical apparatus reproducing the words and thoughts and alibis of his client, no matter how insincere or dishonest. He says:

"Rather the lawyer should refuse to speak those words as a mouthpiece, unless the utterances of his client are filtered and purified by truth and sincerity. Chicanery, dissimulation and insincerity may be words to be found in the dictionary in the lawyer's library. But they should never be found in the lawyer's heart."


About duty of a lawyer towards his client vis-à-vis that towards court, the article states:

"The duty is not simply one which he owes his client. Just as important is the duty which the lawyer owes the court and society. Great as is his loyalty to the client, even greater is his sacred obligation as an officer of the court. He cannot ethically, and should not by preference, present to the court assertions he knows to be false."


The entire article may be read in the High Court order itself.

Read the Judgment


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