The Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday ordered that it is illegal for advocates to resort to strikes or boycott of the courts, and disciplinary action can be taken by the State Bar Council and its disciplinary committee for such misconduct. The court also said that a litigant, who suffers entirely on account of his advocate’s non-appearance in court, can sue the lawyer for damages.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma ruled that no court is obliged to adjourn a case because of a strike call as it is its solemn duty to proceed with judicial business during court hours.
The order came on a PIL filed by one Ishwar Shandilya in 2016. The petitioner’s counsel, Kartikey Hari Gupta, said the hearing of Shandilya’s case in Dehradun district court was getting repeatedly deferred due to strikes called by lawyers.
Gupta said that lawyers of District Bar Association of Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar have been boycotting work on all working Saturdays for the last more than 35 years.
“For a common man, the most important part of the order is that every and any kind of strike by lawyers has been declared illegal,” Gupta said.
“The District Bar Associations of Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar shall, forthwith, withdraw their call for a strike, and start attending Courts on all working Saturdays. All the District Bar Associations in the State shall forthwith refrain from abstaining from Courts because of condolence references for family members of Advocates, or for other reasons. In case they do not start attending Courts, as directed, the District Judges concerned shall submit their respective reports to the High Court for it to consider whether action should be initiated against the errant advocates under the Contempt of Courts Act,” the order stated.
The court order also stated that the Uttarakhand State Bar Council shall within a period of four weeks initiate disciplinary action against the office-bearers of the district bar associations for calling illegal strikes or boycott of courts on Saturdays in Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar. “The District Judges of these districts shall ensure that courts function on Saturdays, and sufficient cases are listed and are disposed of by the courts, under the judgeship, on all working Saturdays,” the order stated.
“The High Court today also said that the Bar Council of India shall take action against striking bar associations in Uttarakhand and shall not permit them to go on strike any further,” Gupta said.
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