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Lawyers tapped for fee-cut tips

State law minister Nisith Adhikari urged agitating lawyers on Tuesday to call off immediately their fortnight-long ceasework, and help the government by offering suggestions on revising the Ordinance hiking court fees.

Writing to A. Chatterjee, chairman of the state Bar Council, the minister said the issue of revision would be discussed in the winter session of the Assembly, beginning next month.

“I am willing to sit with the Council members any time to discuss the court-fee hike,” Adhikari said.

Members of the executive body of the Council were awaiting the letter from the minister, as they hoped the government would approach them to end the stalemate. They, however, found the minister’s approach “disappointing”.

“The letter cannot be seen as a serious attempt to resolve the issues at stake,” a Council member said. “His approach is disappointing and unfortunate. He should pay more attention to the striking lawyers’ sentiments.”

Violence broke out on the Alipore court campus between two groups of lawyers over the ceasework. Trouble started after the pro-Left lawyers’ group took out a rally against the ceasework on Tuesday.

In a related development during the day, Ashok Ghosh, secretary of the Forward Bloc, a constituent of the ruling Left Front, criticised the government for not consulting legal circles before introducing the court-fee hiking Ordinance. He said the government should discuss the issue immediately, with “an open mind”, with Bar Council members.

The Democratic Lawyers’ Association (DLA), the organisation of left lawyers, has written to the state law ministry, suggesting a downward revision in some items of the hiked court fees, according to Rabilal Moitra, government pleader and leader of the association.

Moitra said the law minister had asked both the striking lawyers and the DLA to offer concrete suggestions on revising the Ordinance. Moitra warned his association members that stern action would be taken against those who did not join court from Tuesday.

Bar Council members said they were preparing suggestions on the revision of court fees, which will be forwarded to the minister within two days.

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