Justices Devendra Kumar Upadhyaya and Saroj Yadav of the Division Bench remarked that on the surface, it looked to be an overzealous attempt by a law intern to seek adjournment rather than an impersonation.
By: Himkiran Kaur Sethi, The Law School, University of Jammu
The Allahabad High Court recently delayed the arrest of a law intern accused of impersonation and cheating after he appeared before the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) and requested an adjournment in a case where the lawyer under whom he was interning was representing one of the parties. (Abhay Kumar Gupta v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Others)
The petitioner had honestly disclosed to the presiding officer of MACT that he was a law intern and not a practicing lawyer.
“It does not appear to be a case where the petitioner is said to have impersonated himself as a lawyer. Prima facie, it appears to us that the petitioner over-zealously attempted to seek adjournment in a case where one of the parties appears to have been represented by the learned Advocate under whom the petitioner was interning,” the Court noted.
The order was made in response to a petition filed by Abhay Kumar Gupta, a law intern, who sought the quashing of the first information report filed against him for offenses under the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 419 (impersonation), 420 (cheating), and 171 (wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent).
The petitioner was interning under a lawyer at the District Court in Rae Bareli, and he had been attending court hearings out of interest and as part of his training, according to advocate Anil Kumar Mishra.
On one such instance, he sought a delay in a case in which his superior was one of the attorneys while attending a session at MACT.
Advocate Mishra further drew the Court’s attention to an order from the MACT’s presiding officer dated October 4, 2021, which said that when the petitioner was queried, he told the presiding officer that he is a law student and not a practicing lawyer.
According to the Court, there was no effort at impersonation, but rather an enthusiastic law student attempting to argue in front of a judge.
“Having regard to the overall facts and circumstances of the case, we hereby direct that till the next date of listing, the petitioner Abhay Kumar Gupta shall not be arrested. However, the petitioner shall cooperate with the investigation,” the Court ordered.