Indian-origin lawyer in Australia struck off rolls

Sydney, May 9 (IANS) An Indian-origin lawyer in Australia has been disbarred from practising after it was found that he was guilty in a case of trying to pervert the course of justice while earlier practising in Fiji.

After hearing the case of Abhay Kumar Singh, 56, Justice Alan Wilson of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal ordered that the defendant's name be struck off the legal rolls of Queensland, the Courier Mail reported Thursday.

According to the report, while representing a client in a criminal case in Fiji 10 years back, Singh was found guilty of trying to bribe a witness to change his evidence that could have benefitted his client.

He was disbarred in Fiji and given a 12-month jail term, which was later reduced to a six-month term that could be served outside of prison.

Apart from Fiji, Singh had also practised in New Zealand, prior to practising in Australia, from 2006 after being admitted as a Queensland lawyer in 2002.

In 2008, the Queensland Law Society refused to renew Singh's licence when he disclosed his conviction in Fiji during the process.

Then he approached the tribunal.

Singh submitted to the tribunal that in Fiji, his disbarment period was reduced to six years effective February 2010 after he made several appeals.

He also claimed that despite being disbarred in Fiji, his conviction was not recorded either in Fiji or New Zealand.

In his ruling, Justice Wilson said that Singh disclosed his conviction in Fiji only during the process of renewing his licence.

"It defies belief that an educated and qualified legal practitioner would not, when filling out the form, appreciate the significance and relevance of the conviction," the report quoted him as saying.

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