February 9, 2023

What is Vakalatnama? – Supreme Court’s advice on filing proper vakalatnama

Meaning

Vakalatnama, a species of Power of Attorney, is an important document, which enables and authorizes the pleader appearing for a litigant to do several acts as an Agent, which are binding on the litigant who is the principal. It is a document which creates the special relationship between the lawyer and the client.

It regulates and governs the extent of delegation of authority to the pleader and the terms and conditions governing such delegation. It should, therefore, be properly filled/attested/accepted with care and caution. Obtaining the signature of the litigant on blank Vakalatnamas and filling them subsequently should be avoided.

Routinely mistakes in filing of Vakalatnama

The supreme Court took judicial notice of the following defects routinely found in Vakalatnamas filed in courts: –

(a) Failure to mention the name/s of the person/s executing the Vakalatnama, and leaving the relevant column blank;

(b) Failure to disclose the name, designation or authority of the person executing the Vakalatnama on behalf of the grantor (where the Vakalatnama is signed on behalf of a company, society or body) by either affixing a seal or by mentioning the name and designation below the signature of the executant (and failure to annex a copy of such authority with the Vakalatnama).

(c) Failure on the part of the pleader in whose favour the Vakalatnama is executed, to sign it in token of its acceptance.

(d) Failure to identify the person executing the Vakalatnama or failure to certify that the pleader has satisfied himself about the due execution of the Vakalatnama.

(e) Failure to mention the address of the pleader for purpose of service (in particular in cases of outstation counsel).

(f) Where the Vakalatnama is executed by someone for self and on behalf of someone else, failure to mention the fact that it is being so executed. For example, when a father and the minor children are parties, invariably there is a single signature of the father alone in the Vakalatnama without any endorsement/statement that the signature is for ‘self and as guardian of his minor children’.

Similarly, where a firm and its partner, or a company and its Director, or a Trust and its trustee, or an organisation and its office-bearer, execute a Vakalatnama, invariably there will be only one signature without even an endorsement that the signature is both in his/her personal capacity and as the person authorized to sign on behalf of the corporate body/firm/ society/organisation.

(g) Where the Vakalatnama is executed by a power-of- attorney holder of a party, failure to disclose that it is being executed by an Attorney-holder and failure to annex a copy of the power of attorney;

(h) Where several persons sign a single vakalatnama, failure to affix the signatures seriatim, without mentioning their serial numbers or names in brackets. (Many a time it is not possible to know who have signed the Vakalatnama where the signatures are illegible scrawls);

(i) Pleaders engaged by a client, in turn, executing vakalatnamas in favour of other pleaders for appearing in the same matter or for filing an appeal or revision. (It is not uncommon in some areas for mofussil lawyers to obtain signature of a litigant on a vakalatnama and come to the seat of the High Court, and engage a pleader for appearance in a higher court and execute a Vakalatnama in favour of such pleader).

Reference

Uday Shankar Triyar v. Ram Kalewar Prasad Singh, (2005)