No court is deemed necessary to adjourn a case due to a strike call because it is its solemn duty to execute judicial business during court hours. This decision was held at the Uttarakhand High Court by a bench comprising Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma in the matter of Ishwar Shandilaya vs. State of Uttarakhand & Others [WRIT PETITION (PIL) No. 31 of 2016].
The order was issued in response to a PIL filed in 2016 by one Ishwar Shandilya. Kartikey Hari Gupta, the petitioner’s counsel, stated that the hearing of Shandilya’s case in Dehradun district court had been repeatedly delayed due to lawyer strikes. Gupta indicated that for the past 35 years, lawyers from the District Bar Associations of Dehradun, Haridwar, and Udham Singh Nagar have been boycotting work on all working Saturdays.
“The most important part of the order for the common man is that every and any kind of strike by lawyers has been declared illegal,” Gupta said.
And on this, the Uttarakhand High Court ruled that it is illegal for advocates to strike or boycott the courts and that the State Bar Council and its disciplinary committee can take disciplinary action for such misconduct. The court also stated that a litigant who suffers solely as a result of his advocate’s failure to appear in court can sue the lawyer for damages.
“The District Bar Associations of Dehradun, Haridwar, and Udham Singh Nagar shall immediately withdraw their strike call and resume attending Courts on all working Saturdays.” All District Bar Associations in the State shall immediately refrain from abstaining from Courts due to condolence references for Advocates’ family members or for other reasons. If they do not begin attending Courts as directed, the District Judges concerned must submit their respective reports to the High Court, which will decide whether action should be taken against the errant advocates under the Contempt of Courts Act, according to the order.
The court order also stated that “the Uttarakhand State Bar Council must initiate disciplinary action against the office-bearers of the district bar associations who call illegal strikes or boycotts of courts on Saturdays in Dehradun, Haridwar, and Udham Singh Nagar within four weeks. The order stated that “the District Judges of these districts shall ensure that courts function on Saturdays and that sufficient cases are listed and disposed of by the courts, under the judgeship, on all working Saturdays.”
The court stated that “The High Court also stated today that the Bar Council of India will take action against the striking bar associations in Uttarakhand and will not allow them to go on strike again”.