Advocates at the Vadodara district court who have been on a strike, agitating against seating arrangements at the new district court premises in Diwalipura since Monday, resolved to call off their hunger strike after convening the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on Friday.
The meeting even saw heated disagreements between agitating lawyers, who have to decide on a delegation of five senior bar members, who will solve the issue of seating arrangement, along with five HC judges. The decision to form a committee comes after Thursday evening’s meeting between some advocates and the Chief Justice of Gujarat, Justice R. Subhash Reddy.
As the court remains closed for the next two days, the lawyers have resolved that they will resume their protest from Monday in a unique way as they will either sit under umbrellas, on floor mats or set up handcarts inside the court premises, but not occupy the additional building unless the seating arrangement matter is resolved.
For the last five days, more than 2,000 lawyers have stalled their daily work and have been sitting outside the court premises to protest against the lack of adequate space for them at the new district court built at a cost of Rs 141 crore.
Hitesh Pandya, a senior advocate who has been on a hunger strike, says, “The court proceedings and the daily work of the court has been affected. Where will the litigants go when all the lawyers are on strike except a few? For most of the courts, there is no daily board maintained for the last five days that records how many cases are listed for a particular judge on that day. Even before the inauguration of the building, the bench had decided that they won’t issue warrants to accused or will not close a case at any stage, rather follow it up to the next week since the premises has not been set up completely yet. This is the reason why the bench has been very cold about the bar’s agitation so far.”
Sailesh Amin, another senior advocate, says, “On most occasions, if the bar decides and declares a leave, we tend to compensate that day by working on a Saturday/Sunday. But when lawyers protest and impede daily work, there is no compensation for the day’s work that is lost.”
Many advocates also expressed their angst against the district and sessions judge, J C Doshi, calling him “indifferent” to the concerns of the advocates. “The Judge should not forget that he was himself an advocate once. He should stop treating us as subordinates,” an advocate said.
According to the registrar of the court, Prakash Trivedi, the court proceedings, however, have remained largely unaffected. He said, “Advocates who have the hearing of the cases do appear for the hearing. The daily data of regular work done in the court has not been uploaded as the systems are yet to be set up after the shifting procedure to the new court building. We have 55 courts running at the moment and a structured compiled data would only be available from Monday as we expect full functioning of the court from then.”
A total of 1,64,659 cases are pending in Vadodara district courts. Of this, 42 per cent cases have been pending for the last two years and 21 per cent cases have been pending for more than 10 years. Vadodara’s pendency contributes to 10.3 per cent of the state’s total. Vadodara stands next to Ahmedabad on the list of maximum pending cases.
As of March 23, 2018, a total of 4,978 cases were listed at courts in Vadodara. Of this, 1,978 were civil cases and 3,000 were criminal cases.