Can Advocates go on Strike? Whether boycott of court or strike by lawyers keeping out of court amount to contempt of court?
In an unreported case of Anuran Ghosh V. Bar council of West Bengal and others dated 26/9/95 the Calcutta High Court observed that bar council has no power to call a strike of lawyers and such a call will amount to Contempt of Court.
In case of Common Cause vs. Union of India and others AIR 1995 SCW1505.
The Supreme Court constituted a committee to suggest steps to be taken to prevent boycott or strike by advocates. The Committee suggested that instead of the court going into the wider question, interim arrangement be made to see whether it would be workable. The committee gave suggestions in this regard and the Supreme Court issued the following interim directions with regard to prevent and control strike by advocates.
Those suggestions are as follows:
1) In the rare instance where any association of lawyers including statutory Bar Councils Consider it imperative to call upon or advice members of the legal profession to abstain from appearing in court on any occasion, it must be left open to any individual member/ members of that association to be free appear without let, fear or hindrance or any other coercive steps.
2) No such member who appears in court or otherwise practices his legal profession shall be visited with any adverse or penal consequences whatever, by any association of lawyers and shall not suffer any expulsion or threat of expulsion.
3) The above will not preclude other forms of protest in courts such as, for instance, wearing of arm bands and other forms of protest which in no way interrupt the court proceeding or adversely affect the interest of the litigant . Any such form of pretest shall not however, be derogatory to the court or to the profession.
4) Office-bearers of Bar Association ( including the Bar councils) responsible for taking decision mentioned in clause (1) shall ensure that such decisions are implemented in the spirit of what is stated in clause (1) (2) and (3).
It is worth mentioning that lawyers Strikes are causing great concern to all concerned including the Judiciary, lawyers, and litigants, besides the executive strike by lawyers on all India basis continued about 56 days w.e.f.24 /2/ 2000 due to murderous assault by the police on lawyers in front of Parliament police station. They were proceeding to Parliament house to protest against some provisions incorporated in C.P.C and other enactments which were treated by the lawyer’s community as not in the interest of administration of justice of even the Supreme Court did not function for a day for the first time in the history of the working of the Supreme Court. Judges were also painted by the misconduct of the police has the incident of brutal use of criminal force was Shown to them through video reels. The administration did not move even against the erring police officials till the Delhi High Court passed some strictures against the executive for not removing the police officer from their posts, though the executive authorities pretended to hold inquiry through a Commission to be headed by a Supreme Court sitting/retired judge.
A noted Jurist H.M. Seervai in his Article " Lawyers strike and duty of the Supreme Court”, has opined that lawyers ought to know that at least as long as lawful redress is available to aggrieved lawyers, there is no justification for Lawyers to join in an illegal conspiracy to commit a gross criminal contempt of Court, thereby striking at the heart of the Liberty conferred on every person by the constitution of India. He further observed that strike is an attempt to interfere with the administration of justice and the Supreme Court and the High Courts should make it clear that they will not tolerate any interference from anybody or authority in the daily administration of Justice.
See also... Types of contempt of court