Expressing grave concern over a petition regarding the ongoing strike in the Tehsil Bar Association Rasara, District Ballia, the Allahabad High Court issued a scathing remark, highlighting the detrimental impact of strikes on the wheels of justice.
The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta and Justice Kshitij Shailendra, underscored the inherent contradiction in legal professionals resorting to strikes, emphasizing that courts are not industrial establishments and Bar Associations are not trade unions. The court lamented the adverse consequences of prolonged closures of courts, warning of the potential for individuals to resort to extra-legal means to resolve disputes if judicial redressal is unavailable.
The petition, seeking a writ of mandamus against the striking lawyers, was elevated to the status of a public interest litigation due to its far-reaching implications. Subsequently, upon learning of the strike’s cessation on January 19, 2024, the court directed the President/Chairman of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to provide details of the actions taken regarding the strike.
Despite the Tehsil Bar Association’s contention that strikes were only called under specific circumstances, such as the demise of an advocate or directives from the U.P. Bar Council, the court noted evidence suggesting otherwise. Notably, the court highlighted instances where strikes were called for reasons entirely disconnected from professional obligations, such as mourning the death of a political figure.
To address grievances effectively, the court emphasized the existence of the Grievance Redressal Committee constituted by the Allahabad High Court. This committee provides a forum for resolving disputes and airing concerns, ensuring a structured mechanism for addressing grievances within the legal fraternity.
Furthermore, the court referenced the Rules for Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette laid down by the Bar Council of India, underscoring the esteemed status of advocates as officers of the court and privileged members of society.
In light of statutory provisions and judicial precedents, the court affirmed the State Bar Council’s authority to take punitive action against errant advocates and office bearers, including removal from the State Roll of Advocates.
In conclusion, the court directed in Jang Bahadur Kushwaha v. State Of U.P. And 5 Others [PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. – 1951 of 2023]the U.P. Bar Council to furnish any guidelines pertaining to the observance of condolences and instances necessitating abstention from work. The case is slated for further hearing on February 5, 2024.