National

Supreme Court dubs lawyers’ strikes a ‘joke’

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

The top court was hearing an appeal against the verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court, which had held as “illegal” the strikes or boycotts of work on all Saturdays by lawyers in Dehradun and in several parts of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar.

Strikes by advocates for “flimsy reasons”, like bomb blast in a Pakistan school and earthquake in Nepal, on all working Saturdays for more than the past 35 years in three districts of Uttarakhand have caught the attention of the Supreme Court, which rapped them for resorting to such a “joke”.

The top court was hearing an appeal against the verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court, which had held as “illegal” the strikes or boycotts of work on all Saturdays by lawyers in Dehradun and in several parts of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar. In its September 25, 2019 verdict, the High Court had referred to the 266th report of the Law Commission, which had analysed data on loss of working days on account of strikes by lawyers and had opined that it affected the functioning of courts and contributed to the ever-mounting pendency of cases.

As per information sent by the High Court to the Law Commission with respect to Uttarakhand for 2012-2016, advocates were on strike for 455 days during this period in Dehradun district, followed by 515 days in Haridwar district.

The High Court had noted that such strikes were seldom for justifiable reasons. “To mention a few, blast in a Pakistan school, amendments to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, inter-State river water disputes, attack on/murder of an advocate, quake in Nepal... and even for kavi-sammelans,” it had said.

The appeal against the HC verdict came up for hearing before a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M.R. Shah on Thursday.

“This is happening everywhere in the country. This is a fit case to initiate suo motu contempt. How can bar association say that they will continue with the strike?” the Bench remarked. “Things have collapsed,” the Bench said, adding, “The HC order is fully justified. We cannot permit things like this... You are doing a joke. Family member of advocate dies and the entire bar will go on strike?” the Bench said while reserving its order on an appeal filed by a lawyers’ body of Dehradun.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner told the Bench that strikes had stopped in Dehradun district.

In its verdict, the High Court had noted that “genesis of this peculiar form” of protest of boycotting work on Saturdays for over 35 years was traceable to western Uttar Pradesh, of which the aforesaid districts formed part of, before the state of Uttarakhand was created on November 9, 2000.

It had noted that advocates from western Uttar Pradesh have been on strike on all Saturdays for the past three and half decades in pursuit of their demand that a high court bench be established in the region.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:39:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-dubs-lawyers-strikes-a-joke/article30884927.ece

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