Calcutta HC administration frames rules on lawyers' strike

Kolkata
30 May 2018

The Calcutta High Court administration has framed rules that consider strike by lawyers as interference to dispensation of justice in accordance with a Supreme Court order that said lawyers have no right to strike. A 69-day ceasework called by lawyers' associations from February had severely affected the justice delivery system at the Calcutta High Court. The administration told a division bench of Chief Justice Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya and Justice Arijit Banerjee that the rules will be placed before the full court for approval. Petitioner A K Sarangi had moved a PIL seeking direction to the high court administration to comply with the apex court's direction by framing appropriate rules under Section 34 of the Advocates Act, 1961 to make it clear that strikes by advocates will be considered interference with the administration of justice and for taking action against advocates who resort to ceasework.
The counsel representing the high court administration submitted before the bench that "the rules have been framed and are waiting to be placed before the full court for approval."  A 'full court' is a session of a court which is attended by all its judges. Noting the development, the division bench had disposed of the PIL on May 15. Srikanta Dutta, counsel for the petitioner, said that in 2002 the Supreme Court had passed a direction to the high courts in the ex-captain Harish Uppal versus Union of India case with regard to strikes by lawyers. The apex court had directed the high courts to frame rules under Section 34 of the Advocates Act, 1961, to make clear that any strike by lawyers will be treated as interference to the administration of justice, he said today.
In 2015, Sarangi had filed an RTI application to know whether such rules had been framed by the Calcutta High Court administration. He was informed that the rules were yet to be framed, Dutta said. Sarangi had then filed a PIL before the high court seeking direction on the administration to frame the rules. In 2016, the then Chief Justice Girish Gupta and Justice Arindam Sinha directed that opinion in this regard be sought from all district courts in the state through the Bar Council of West Bengal and rules be framed within three months after receiving those. When the matter came up for hearing earlier this month, the administration told the court that rules have been framed. Three lawyers' associations had called a ceasework from February 19 seeking appointment of judges to the high court, whose strength had fallen to 30 only against a sanctioned strength of 72. The ceasework was called off after the union law ministry had appointed seven new judges to the HC.(PTI)