The Delhi District Court Bar Association on Monday called of its day-long strike after Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad assured them that the matter will be addressed in the winter session of Parliament.
Lawyers were protesting against the delay in enhancing pecuniary jurisdiction of Delhi courts from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 crore. Pecuniary jurisdiction is the legal power to try cases/suits based on their value.
“We immediately called off the strike after meeting the minister. After we raised the issue of how the previous government did not do anything on this matter for two years, he assured us that he will take up the matter in the winter session. He also said he would try to expedite the process to amend the Delhi High Court Act,1966,” Sanjeev Nasiar, President, Delhi Bar Association said.
According to a bar member, officials told the co-ordination committee that the law minister would hold a meeting to take up the matter.
Earlier in the day, judicial work came to a standstill with no lawyer appearing in any matter due to the strike. However, some special courts functioned but only “proxy” lawyers appeared before these courts.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) seems divided on the issue. DHCBA president Rajiv Khosla is one of the people who has been at the forefront of the agitation to increase pecuniary jurisdiction. However the other members of the DHCBA executive committee, which consists of advocates who practice mostly in the High Court, have vowed to “fight tooth and nail” against the enhancement. They argued that it would result in reduction of the number of cases coming to the High Court.
“The proposed enhancement of jurisdiction is unjust, arbitrary and not based on any scientific analysis,” DHCBA Secretary Abhijat said.
The committee also issued a notice last week calling for responses and suggestions from all High Court lawyers to draft a memorandum to be sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, objecting to the proposed enhancement.
Interestingly, the notice was signed by the secretary and not by the president of the Bar association. Khosla, on the other hand, says that as a full bench of the Delhi High Court has already decided to enhance jurisdiction and has sent the recommendation, the matter “should be laid to rest”.
“Everyone must accept it. There is no point in agitating the issue,” Khosla said. Sources at DHCBA also told the Indian Express that a representation against the enhancement has been sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee.