THE Bombay High Court has held that an advocate cannot be denied entry into a bar room just because he or she is not the member of that particular bar.
Justice A S Oka and Justice P D Naik were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Bombay Lawyers’ Association, seeking bar rooms, libraries and other facilities in courts across the state. The main grievance of the petitioner was the denial of seats in bar rooms, and free access to libraries.
They claimed that many lawyers not based in Mumbai come here only when they have a case to attend to, and are not allowed to sit on chairs as they are “meant” for other senior colleagues of that particular bar.
An intervener in the matter said she was told by her colleagues that they too faced a similar situation, but did not want to “indulge in controversy against influential members of the bar room” who have “reserved chairs”.
The court observed that there was not a specific grievance where a particular member was denied entry to a bar room on the grounds that he or she is not a member of the local bar. “If there are cases, the petitioner is free to make representations before appropriate authority. As far as the library is concerned, the petitioner seeks the facility free of cost. Maintenance costs a lot. Library requires printers and computers. Windows software involves cost. Therefore, no member of the bar can claim a library facility for free,” the court observed.
Referring to the plight of litigants in Marathwada and Vidarbha, the court observed that these regions do not get electricity. It asked the petitioner that instead of seeking funds for their facilities, they should seek money for generators so that litigants in these regions are benefited.
It appears, it further said, that certain funds are being made available. “You should be intervening in matters where we are passing orders in the interest of litigants and not yourself. There is no electricity in Marathwada and Vidarbha. Instead of seeking money for advocates, seek money for generators so that litigants are benefited,” the HC said.