The usually bustling courtrooms and hallways of the Bombay High Court remained starkly empty as most of the practising lawyers abstained from work on Monday, as a mark of their protest against the killing of an advocate inside court premises in Allahabad allegedly by a policeman last week.
The Advocates Association of Western India (AAWI) put up a notice in HC’s room number 36 for its members. The notice said that the Bar Council of India had sent a notice to the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa calling for a national strike and the same was received by AAWI.
“The letter mentioned that on account of the brutal killing of a lawyer by the police in court premises in Allahabad, lawyers throughout the country shall abstain from attending work on March 16, 2015,” AAWI Secretary Rahul S Kate said in the notice.
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Pointing at the notice which was received by AAWI on Friday, the association’s president Rajiv Chavan said around 90 per cent lawyers from the appellate side had restrained from engaging in work.
“We are also condemning the brutal killing of Govind Pansare in Kolhapur recently. He was a practicing lawyer and the Bar Council of India should have also included his name in the resolution,” Chavan told Newsline.
As a result of the protest, hearings in HC perhaps remained a one-sided affair with the presence of only government lawyers and a few legal practitioners. Abhinandan Vagyani, Government Pleader, said as an “officer of the court” it was his duty to extend assistance in only those cases where he was called on.
“It is not like we are not observing the protest. We wore white ribbons marking the protest and solidarity remains with others. However, as officers of the court, we have responsibilities and therefore we assisted the court,” said Vagyani. The government lawyer said in the 10 cases he appeared, lawyers from the other side in eight of them were absent. Striking lawyers also meant adjournments in most of the cases.
An official from the High Court said the lawyers’ strike would affect the disposal of cases on that particular day.
On March 11, 30-year-old lawyer Nabi Ahmed was shot dead allegedly by sub-inspector Shailendra Singh inside the district court premises in Allahabad. The victim’s father had claimed in the First Information Report that Ahmed had an altercation with Singh who pulled out his revolver and shot at his son.