Friday, June 2, 2023

Supreme Court expresses its anguish with BCI for not finalising norms for disciplinary action against lawyers who go on strike

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The Supreme Court has expressed its anguish with the Bar Council of India (BCI) yet again for not being able to finalise norms for disciplinary action against lawyers who go on strike.

A Bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sanjay Kumar said that they would be left with any option but to directly impose punishments on lawyers guilty of boycotting court work.

Justice Maheshwari remarked

When the counsel for the BCI had sought more time to file a detailed affidavit incorporating suggestions of State Bar Councils in the matter.

The bench said if members of the Bar Council of India cannot see the urgency then they will have to appoint another body. 

The Court then deferred the matter till till April 17, and asked the BCI to disclose whether State Bar Councils were creating any hindrances.

The Bench was hearing a contempt petition which was filed by NGO Common Cause seeking action against lawyers who boycott court work.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who represented petitioners said that the fact that Bar Council members are elected, leads to resolutions or suspensions against lawyers on strike getting withdrawn on the eve of polls.

The Supreme Court had in January expressed its disappointment with the BCI for its delay in putting forth concrete steps to prevent lawyers’ strikes across the country. 

Justice Maheshwari had then remarked that they need specific, concrete preventive measures.

In 2019, when the case was heard it was submitted that the BCI was not enforcing its own resolutions in this regard, nor looking into the need for disciplinary action.

The top court had instructed BCI to file a comprehensive affidavit showing the pendency of various disciplinary matters across the country, including those before State Bar Councils.

The Court had taken a dim view of the BCI not being able to prevent lawyers from going on strikes in December.

In November, another bench had frowned upon protests and court boycotts held by lawyers of district bar associations in western Odisha who are demanding a permanent bench of the Orissa High Court at Sambalpur.

As on date, lawyers across the State of Madhya Pradesh are on strike.

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