Since February 19, all work at the Calcutta High Court has ceased. More than 5,000 advocates from Kolkata’s three Bar Councils have called for “cease of work” until the Centre appoints more judges.
The Calcutta HC has 2,50,000 cases pending as of today.
Bar Association of Calcutta president Uttam Kumar Majumdar said that in a meeting on April 3, the lawyers decided to extend the strike till April 19. “We took the decision as none of our demands were met. Some names have been cleared by the Centre. They should make the appointments immediately,’’ he said.
The lawyers have two other demands. One: that the HC have a permanent Chief Justice. Calcutta High Court has not had a permanent Chief Justice in two and a half years. Two: Appointment of Calcutta HC judges to the Supreme Court.
Mukul Lahiri, president of Incorporated Law Society of Calcutta, one of the state’s three bar councils, claimed the paucity was intentional. “We believe this is a conscious design to incapacitate the justice delivery system. When the judiciary functions independently, it creates a very uncomfortable situation for any government,” he said, adding that the National Judicial Appointments Commission makes it clear who will oversee the appointment of judges.
Arunava Ghosh, a HC advocate and Congress MLA candidate in the last Assembly election, said, “About 20,000 cases are filed in the High Court every month. Disposal is quick because judges don’t have time. So justice is not being properly served. Even then, disposal rate of cases is not more than 100 a month… Let the Law Ministry give us an assurance that they will send us 10 judges in the next two months,” he said.
Criminal lawyer in the HC Kaushik Gupta said that many of his clients were “rotting in jail’’ because of the backlog and now the strike. “This is violation of the right to liberty,” he said.