The Himachal Pradesh High Court held that there is no public law element involved in a dispute between the High Court Bar Association and its member and hence, a writ petition against its office bearers is not maintainable.

The Court held thus in a writ petition filed by High Court Advocate against the notice issued to him by the Himachal Pradesh High Court Bar Association whose office bearers were impleaded as respondents.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua said, “Having regard to the said ratio and having regard to our conclusion that there is no public law element involved in the dispute between a member of the HP High Court Bar Association such as the petitioner and the said Association, and since the said Association is unregistered society, merely because its members are Advocates who appear in the High Court and assist in the administration of justice, it cannot be said that the writ petition against its office bearers in their personal capacity is maintainable.”

The petitioner Advocate Abhimanyu Rathor appeared in person while none appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the HC Bar Association had issued a show-cause notice through its Secretary, alleging that the petitioner Advocate was unnecessarily interfering in the working of the Bar Association and that he had entered into an altercation with workers engaged by the Association who were carrying out the work of expansion of Bar Room. The notice was said to have been issued as per the Resolution passed in the meeting of the Executing Committee of the Bar Association.

After filing the writ petition, a proceeding was issued by the Association cancelling the petitioner’s membership stating that he had acted against the Association. The High Court inquired him as to how the writ petition was maintainable against the office bearers of an unregistered Society even if it is HP High Court Bar Association. The counsel relied on few decisions of the Apex Court.

The High Court in the above context observed, “It relied on its previous decision in Ramakrishna Mission and another vs. Kago Kunya and others5 where the Writ petition was held not maintainable against the appellant Mission even though it was found running a Hospital, thus discharging public function/public duty.”

The Court noted that the Supreme Court held that that the Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution against the private Educational Institution would be maintainable only if the public law element is involved; and if there is no public law element involved, no writ petition lies.

“It held that the scope of the mandamus is basically limited to an enforcement of the public duty and therefore, it is the duty of the court to find out that the nature of the duty comes within the periphery of public duty, and there must be public law element in any action”, it added.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and granted liberty to the petitioner to avail any other remedy available to him at law.

Cause Title- Abhimanyu Rathor v. The Registrar General, HP High Court and others

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