NEW DELHI: Following the defamation case filed by Union minister MJ Akbar against journalist Priya Ramani through Karanjawala & Co, the law firm representing him, a debate has ensued over the 97 lawyers named in the 'Vakalatnama'.
Advocate Manish Makhija told TOI that a Vakalatnama is a contract between the lawyer and his client where a client gives authority to the lawyer to represent him before a court.
According to Makhija, who has appeared in several criminal cases, only those advocates who have signed the Vakalatnama can appear before the court on the behalf of the client and not those who are just named. "In case anyone else has to appear, a fresh Vakalatnama has to be filed," he added.
The Vakalatnama filed by Karanjawala & Co contains the names of 97 lawyers, but not all of them have signed the document.
"One vakalatnama can be signed by any number of clients and lawyers. However, whosoever signs it binds himself to this legal contract," Makhija said.
In the opinion of senior lawyer Ramesh Gupta, all those lawyers who signed the 'Vakalatnama' can appear in the case.
Another senior advocate Amit Desai said a client can be represented by as many counsels as required. "It is between him (client) and the law firm he is being represented by. It is not unusual for a client to be represented by several lawyers (counsel or advocates) in a particular case," he said.
Akbar in his complaint had said that publication of Ramani's allegations had caused "great humiliation to him" and severely tarnished his reputation in the eyes of the public as well as his family, friends, colleagues, political fraternity and associates.
Ramani had on Monday tweeted a response: "I am ready to fight allegations of defamation laid against me, as truth and the absolute truth is my only defence."