The Allahabad High Court on Thursday directed lawyers who have been boycotting courts in Kanpur since March 25 to resume work or face contempt of court action.
A seven-judge Bench of Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justices Sunita Agarwal, Surya Prakash Kesarwani, Manoj Kumar Gupta, Anjani Kumar Mishra, Dr. Kaushal Jayendra Thaker and Mahesh Chandra Tripathi also issued notice to members of the Kanpur Bar Association, who were responsible for initiating the strike.
“In the present case, despite sincere efforts being made by this Court, the lawyers are adamant not to perform their work in the Court and their actions are creating hurdle in dispensation of justice, which is nothing but a sort of contempt of Courts,” the order stated.
The Kanpur Bar Association and the Lawyers’ Association Kanpur called for the strike after a district judge apparently misbehaved with lawyers. They had initially only boycotted the court of the District & Sessions Judge, Kanpur Nagar, but later began abstaining from work in other Kanpur courts.
The order revealed that the Chief Justice and the administrative judges of Kanpur Nagar had held meetings separately as well as jointly with the President and the General Secretary of the Kanpur Bar Association, with a view to resolving the issue.
The Bar Association had given an assurance that it would call off the strike and resume work. However, the Court noted that the lawyers’ body deviated from the assurance and are now threatening to spread the strike across the whole district of Kanpur Nagar.
Advocate General Ajay Kumar Mishra submitted that the strike cannot be supported in any manner. He assured the Court that the State would provide all sorts of assistance for dispensation of justice.
The Court noted that the Supreme Court in Ex Capt Harish Uppal v. Union of India and another held that the lawyers have no right to go on strike or give a call for boycott. The lawyers holding vakalat of a client and abstaining from court due to a strike call would be personally responsible for costs and damages towards his client, it added.
It thus issued notice to the following office bearers of the Kanpur Bar Association and the Lawyers Association:
- Naresh Chandra Tripathi, President, Kanpur Bar Association;
- Anurag Srivastava, General Secretary, Kanpur Bar Association;
- Ravindra Sharma, President, the Lawyers’ Association, Kanpur Nagar; and
- Sharad Kumar Shukla, General Secretary, the Lawyers’ Association, Kanpur Nagar.
The lawyers have been directed to be present personally before the Court tomorrow at 10:00 AM, when the matter will be heard next.
“As an interim measure, it is directed that the lawyers shall resume their work forthwith and to purge the contempt and in case, any hindrance is created by any of the lawyer or office bearers, the same would be viewed seriously,” the Court added.
The Chairman of the State Bar Council is also required to be present to assist the Court.
The Bench also directed its Registrar to ensure publication of this order amongst not only the lawyers community at Kanpur Nagar, but through the media also. The police is required to affix this order on the notice boards of both bar associations and in other conspicuous places inside the court premises.