SC took suo moto cognizance and issue notices to the Bar Councils to suggest concrete solutions to deal with the problem of lawyer’s strikes
District Bar Association, Dehradun through its Secretary v. Ishwar Shandilya
Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 5440 Of 2020[@ Diary No. 1476 Of 2020] decided 28.2.2020
ARUN MISHRA and M. R. SHAH, JJ
The Advocates in the entire District of Dehradun, in several districts of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar district in the State of Uttarakhand have been boycotting the Courts on all Saturdays for the past more than 35 years. As the strikes are seriously obstructing the access to justice to the needy litigants, respondent approach the High Court by way of Writ Petition (PIL).
Question of law
Whether lawyer community can go on strike in absence of no other forum to show their grievance?
Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner has vehemently submitted that the High Court has not properly appreciated and considered the fact that the right to go on strike/boycott courts is a fundamental right to Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed under Article19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
It is vehemently submitted by the learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner that the strike is a mode of peaceful representation to express the grievances by the lawyers’ community in absence of no other forum is available.
It is further submitted by the learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the petitioner that the High Court ought to have held that the protection conferred by Section 48 of the Advocates Act is for any act done in good faith and therefore the directions issued by the High Court to take action against the Advocates on strike would be contrary to the protection conferred by Section 48 of the Advocates Act.
The Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance and issue notices to the Bar Council of India and all the State Bar Councils to suggest the further course of action and to give concrete suggestions to deal with the problem of strikes/abstaining the work by the lawyers.
The Court relying upon the case of Ex-Capt. Harish Uppal v. Union of India (2003) 2 SCC 45 held that the lawyers have no right to go on strike or even token strike or to give a call for strike. It is also further observed that nor can they while holding Vakalat on behalf of clients, abstain from appearing in courts in pursuance of a call for strike or boycott. It is further observed by this Court that it is unprofessional as well as unbecoming for a lawyer to refuse to attend the court even in pursuance of a call for strike or boycott by the Bar Association or the Bar Council. It is further observed that an Advocate is an officer of the court and enjoys a special status in the society; Advocates have obligations and duties to ensure the smooth functioning of the court; they owe a duty to their clients and strikes interfere with the administration of justice. They cannot thus disrupt court proceedings and put interest of their clients in jeopardy.