Flimsy reasons for strikes like bomb blast in Pakistan irk SC

Updated: Feb 22, 2020, 09:08 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

The appeal against the high court's verdict came up for hearing before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah on Thursday

Strikes by advocates for "flimsy reasons", like bomb blast in a Pakistan school and earthquake in Nepal, on all working Saturdays for more than past 35 years in three districts of Uttarakhand has caught the attention of the Supreme Court which rapped them. The issue came to the notice of the apex court while it was hearing an appeal against the verdict of the Uttarakhand High Court which had held as "illegal" the strikes or boycotts of court work on all Saturdays by lawyers in Dehradun and in several parts of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar.

In its September 25, 2019, verdict, the high court had referred to the 266th report of the Law Commission, which had analysed data on loss of working days on account of strikes by lawyers and had opined that it affects functioning of courts and contributes to the ever mounting pendency of cases. As per information sent by the high court to the Law Commission with respect to Uttarakhand for 2012-2016, advocates were on strike for 455 days during this period in Dehradun district, followed by 515 days in Haridwar district.

Referring to the Law Commission's report, the high court had noted that strikes by advocates or their abstinence from courts varied from local, national to international issues. "To mention a few, bomb blast in a Pakistan school, amendments to Sri Lanka's Constitution, inter-state river water disputes, attack on/murder of an advocate, earthquake in Nepal, condoling the death of near relatives of advocates, solidarity with advocates of other state bar associations, moral support to social activists, heavy rains...and even for kavi-sammelans," the HC had noted in its verdict.

The appeal against the high court's verdict came up for hearing before a bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah on Thursday. "You are doing a joke. Family member of advocate dies and the entire bar will go on strike? What is this," the bench said while reserving its order on an appeal filed by a lawyers' body of Dehradun. The counsel appearing for the petitioner told the bench that strike has stopped in Dehradun district.

In its verdict, the high court had noted that "genesis of this peculiar form" of protest of boycotting work on Saturdays for over 35 years was traceable to western UP, of which the aforesaid districts were part of, before the state of Uttarakhand was created.

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No. of years lawyers have struck work on Saturdays

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