Bar Council of India (BCI) on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it will frame rules to curb lawyers’ strikes and also initiate action against those who provoke advocates, via social media platforms, to abstain from court hearings.
Senior advocate Manan Kumar Mishra, chairman BCI, submitted before a bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah that they have convened a meeting of all state bar associations on September 4. Mishra informed the bench that BCI has convened a meeting with all bar associations. Mishra submitted, “We propose to formulate rules to curtail strikes by lawyers and to initiate action against advocates who instigate strikes on social media”.
At the beginning of the hearing, Mishra apologised for not coming up with suggestions earlier in compliance with the court’s order last year. He cited the onset of the Covid pandemic as the reason for the same.
The top court recorded Mishra’s submissions and appreciated the action taken by BCI. During the earlier hearing, the top court had sought assistance from the BCI chairman to deal with the lawyers’ strike issue. After hearing arguments, the bench scheduled the matter for further hearing in the third week of September.
The top court had taken suo motu cognisance of the issue. It had said boycotting courts every Saturday in the districts of Dehradun, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand is not justifiable, rather it is tantamount to contempt of court. Noting that 3-4 days lawyers were on strike during a month, the top court observed if lawyers were to work on those days, it would have helped in achieving speedy justice.
The top court, on July 26, cited its February 28, 2020 judgment, where the BCI and state bar councils were directed to come up with suggestions to curb lawyers’ strike and their boycott of court proceedings. The top court had asked the BCI chairman to assist it on the issue.
The top court in its February judgment expressed concern on lawyers’ holding strike every Saturday for 35 years in Uttarakhand district courts over reasons like “bomb blast in Pakistan”, “earthquake in Nepal” or “condolence references for family members”.