UP Lawyers Led By State Bar Council Continue To Abstain From Work For The 13th Day Despite High Court's Warning
The Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh and the Allahabad High Court Bar Association have today entered their 13th day of the strike in protest against alleged inaction of the Uttar Pradesh Government in the matter of the recent police violence that occurred against Advocates in Hapur District on August 29, 2023. As per Press Releases issued today by both the Bar Council and the Advocates Association, they have unanimously decided to continue abstaining from judicial work.
Uttar Pradesh Police had allegedly restored to Lathi charge against the Hapur Lawyers when they were protesting against the registration of the criminal case on a fellow lady Advocate and her father. Further, several FIRs were filed by the Police at the City Police station in Hapur, naming several Advocates and more than 250 unidentified individuals in connection with the protest.
While the Allahabad High Court on August 4, 2023, took Suo Motu Cognizance of the incident in Hapur and 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.
Further, the High Court on September 9, 2023, formed a committee to look into the incident and referred the grievances of the Bar Council to the Committee chaired by Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta. The Court also directed the Special Investigation Team (SIT), already constituted by the State Government to look into the incident, to also intimate about the action taken on the first information reports lodged by the Lawyers in respect of the incident, while submitting its interim report, as previously directed.
However, the Bar Council in its Press Release stated, "No action has been taken yet by the Government/administration on the demand of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh and the advocates, for which a virtual emergency meeting of the honourable members was held today on 10.09.2023 at 09:00 PM to decide the future strategy."
The Release further read, "It was unanimously decided in the meeting that the Advocates will abstain from Judicial work on 11th and 12th September and if in the meantime the demand of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh is not accepted by the government, then again on 12.09.2023 at 08:00 pm, a meeting of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh will be called and further strategies will be considered"
Similarly, according to the Press Release issued by the High Court's Bar Association, in response to the non-registration of FIRs on complaints of Advocates, those practising in the High Court will continue refraining from Judicial work on September 11.
While speaking to Verdictum, Shreenath Tripathi, a Member of the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh and Bar Council of India, expressed his concerns about the current situation. He said, "This is an exceptional circumstance where the Government appears to be overlooking the matter entirely. There hasn't been a single transfer of any police officer, and the lawyers were subjected to baton charges without any prior notice or apparent reason. Although the High Court has ordered an inquiry, our strike is primarily directed towards the Uttar Pradesh Government due to their perceived inaction. It seems like we have exhausted all other options. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Uttar Pradesh Government was supposed to submit a report, but even that hasn't been done."
Tripathi further emphasized, "Notably, no senior government official, including the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, has reached out to the Bar Council. We hold great respect for the orders of the High Court and the Supreme Court, but the lathi charge against the lawyers is an extraordinary situation. This protest aims to draw attention to the government's silence concerning such an incident."
On the aspect of the Strike by Lawyers, the High Court had stated, "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."