The Allahabad High Court, yesterday, upon initiating Suo Motu Cognizance of the police violence against Advocates in Hapur, voiced criticism of the approach of the Advocates and the Bar Councils/Associations in resorting to strike and abstaining from work. The Court expressed hope that the Advocates will introspect and act in due deference to the law as declared by the Supreme Court. The Court also expressed hope that it will not have to resort to any unpleasant measures in the matter.

The Bench of Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice M C Tripathi in its order stated, "Before proceeding further, it is worth noticing that the act of Bar Associations/Councils in resorting to strike has been frowned consistently by this Court and also by the Hon’ble Supreme Court as such acts on part of the lawyers does great damage not only to the litigants but it affects the administration of justice itself which is an important facet of our Constitutional democracy. The representative body of advocates have the right to raise grievance on behalf of their members but it has to be in a manner that the ultimate cause of justice itself is not defeated. As responsible citizens and soldiers of the justice dispensation system, we expect the lawyers and their representative bodies to be conscious of their obligations to the Society at large and act in a responsible manner."

The Bench also stated, "In light of what is observed above, we hope and trust that the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh as also the respective Bar Associations across the State as well as this Court and its Bench at Lucknow shall introspect and act in due deference to the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India such that this Court is not required to take any unpleasant steps in the matter and forthwith resume their work."

Background: Due to the ongoing lawyers' strike following the incident in District Hapur, the Bar Council of U.P. decided to abstain from judicial work on August 30, 2023. Additionally, they have resolved to continue the strike for three more days: September 4th, 5th, and 6th, 2023. Considering the ongoing strike, the Allahabad High Court took Judicial notice of the incident and requested the Presidents and Secretaries of the High Court Bar Association, the Advocates Association, as well as the Chairman and members of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh to address the Court on this matter.

Ashok Singh, President of the High Court Bar Association, expressed lawyers' grievances regarding the State's Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the Hapur incident. He pointed out that the SIT lacks a judicial officer, emphasizing that the State's actions appear one-sided since local authorities and police were responsible for the atrocities against lawyers. He also submitted that only a one-sided FIR has been filed, and despite the lawyers' efforts, their FIR has not been registered to date.

Singh also stated that if the SIT is allowed to proceed it would cause great injustice to lawyers because the guilty police personnel shall be the judge in their own cause. Accordingly, considering the request made by the Bar Association, the High Court directed the inclusion of Hari Nath Pandey, Retd. Principal Judge, Family Court, Lucknow as a member of the SIT, which is already constituted by the State Government.

The Court stated that "The SIT will proceed to conduct its enquiry and submit its report in a sealed cover at the earliest possible. An interim report shall be submitted before the Court by the next date fixed." However, the Court refused to consider the other demands of the Bar Council of U.P which were as follows: A) Immediate transfer of District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police Hapur. B) A case should be registered against the guilty police personnel who brutally lathi-charged and also beat up women advocates. C) To quash the false and fabricated criminal cases registered against the advocates across the State. D) The Advocates Protection Act should be passed and implemented in the State immediately and E) The injured advocates of Hapur should be compensated immediately.

The Court also directed the Superintendent of Police, Hapur to ensure that the complaint lodged by the Advocates about the incident also be duly registered and investigated as per law. The Court will now consider the matter on September 15, 2023.

However, following yesterday's court hearing, a meeting was held under the leadership of the President of the High Court Bar Association. During this meeting, the Bar Association decided to extend their abstention from judicial work to today. The statement made in the publication emphasized that High Court Advocates are quite upset due to the lack of action against the accused individuals and will continue to abstain from judicial work tomorrow as well, on September 5, 2023 (Tuesday).

Cause Title: In Re v. Bar Council Of U.P [(PIL) No. - 2099 of 2023]

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