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2022 (9) TMI 612 - Indian Laws
Alleged misconduct on Chartered Accountants - bar under Rule 12 of the Chartered Accountants (Procedure of Investigations of Professional and Other Misconduct and Conduct of Cases) Rules, 2007 - HELD THAT:- It would be pertinent to firstly note that Rule 12 does not expressly debar the Director Discipline from entertaining a complaint merely because it may relate to acts of misconduct committed seven years prior to the same being lodged. The said Rule also does not prescribe that a complaint would not lie if it be preferred seven years after the alleged misconduct was committed. Rule 12 is founded on the satisfaction of the Director Discipline that the circumstances envisaged and stipulated therein render it impracticable to conduct an enquiry. That satisfaction may be arrived at if the Director be of the considered opinion that it would be difficult to gather evidence in connection with the complaint made or where it be of the view that the member would find it difficult to lead evidence to defend himself effectively in the proceedings contemplated - The formation of opinion in this regard may rest on either a difficulty in securing evidence or even where it be found that the “time lag” between the commission of the misconduct and the making of the complaint would place the member under an unreasonable burden of collecting material and evidence which may be required to proffer a wholesome defense. The Court thus finds itself unable to accept the contentions advanced on behalf of the petitioner that the complaint proceedings must be interdicted merely because seven or more years have elapsed since the commission of the misconduct.
The Court notes that before proceeding to reject that objection, it was incumbent upon the respondent to have duly considered whether the petitioner was in fact severely handicapped from submitting a response to the allegations levelled in the complaint as also whether there was material and evidence available on the basis of which the enquiry could be proceeded with. It was, in the considered opinion of this Court, incumbent upon the respondent to have recorded cogent reasons in support of its conclusion that the objection taken with reference to Rule 12 was unfounded or unjustified.