Judicial work in the national capital on Thursday was paralysed as 6,000 city lawyers went on strike to protest a Bar Council of India (BCI) suggestion to the Law Commission that lawyers should be banned from going on strike and slapped with penalties if they do. With no work conducted in the six district courts, the Bar Council later withdrew the suggestion.
The lawyers strike affected over 10,000 matters that were being heard in the Delhi courts daily. As the lawyers were not appearing in the court room, the judges adjourned the matters.
BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra, in the face of a massive protest march by the city’s lawyers, recommended that the Law Commission reconsider the suggestion of banning lawyers from going on strike.
The move came after around a thousand lawyers held a protest march outside the Bar Council of India office at the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg here in the afternoon to “safeguard the dignity” of the legal profession.
Observing the huge presence of lawyers, Delhi Police beefed up security outside the BCI office and most of the shops were shut on the road.
Mishra came out of his office and met the striking lawyers. He assured them that BCI is withdrawing the suggestion.
Earlier in the day, the lawyers burnt an effigy of Mishra to vent their anger against the “arbitrary” decision of the Bar Council.
They shouted slogans against BCI chairman Mishra and said his “dictatorship” would not be tolerated and accused him of misusing his powers.
The Coordination Committee of All District Court Bar Associations of Delhi said the strike in all six district courts — Patiala House, Tis Hazari, Rohini, Karkardooma, Saket and Dwarka — was successful.
According to the committee’s spokesperson Jaibeer Singh Chauhan, the strike by more than 6,000 lawyers was not against the Bar Council of India (BCI) or any other organisation, but “to safeguard the dignity” of the legal profession.
Former Delhi High Court Bar Association President Rajiv Khosla also supported the strike by the city lawyers and joined the protest.
“The fight is to safeguard the interest and dignity of legal profession, because we provide social services to people,” Khosla said, adding that the “arbitrary decision” has wrought fear among the advocates.
“None of the lawyers appeared before the court as we decided to abstain from work. The strike was successful,” said New Delhi Bar Association President Santosh Mishra.
Khosla expressed concerned over the adjourning of the court matters due to the strike and said that “around 10,000-12,0000 matters listed on Thursday had to be adjourned without any valuable arguments”.
One of court staff said that due to the lawyers’ strike, the court adjourned most of the matters without any argument.
The court only took up those matters which were related to filing of status report and written submissions or remand proceedings, the staff added.
Some of the litigants supported the lawyers protest despite the fact that their court matters were getting delayed.