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Lawyers court comeback route

In another bid to end the 20-day ceasework that has crippled courts in Bengal, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has decided to meet representatives of agitating lawyers on Tuesday.

Confirming Bhattacharjee’s latest initiative, Uttam Majumder, executive chairman of the state Bar Council, said the chief minister had, late on Monday, agreed to receive suggestions pertaining to a probable revision of the Ordinance hiking court fees, which is central to the ceasework.

Earlier in the day, the state Bar Council had met to decide its members would continue their agitation till December 11. A protest march to the Assembly has also been planned for December 10. After the three-hour-long meeting, Council chairman A. Chatterjee said: “We are sending a proposal to the government regarding the revision of the Ordinance. If it is willing to include this in the proposed Bill on the issue and allows us to file cases at the old rates, we will call off the ceasework.”

The Council proposal will be handed over to the chief minister on Tuesday, with copies of the suggestions being sent to Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim.

Lawyers across Bengal have struck work since November 13, demanding withdrawal of the fee-hike Ordinance. A meeting with Bhattacharjee last Friday had failed to resolve the impasse, as he had rejected the proposal of the lawyers to continue with the old court fees till the Bill was passed in the Assembly.

Twenty-one out of 25 executive committee members of the Council attended Monday’s meeting. Seventeen felt the majority opinion should rule and the ceasework continue, while four members said the lawyers should get back to work. Some called for a Bangla bandh to press their demands.

The lawyers staged dharnas at all 568 courts during the day. A roadblock was set up on Kiron Shankar Roy Road for an hour. A minor scuffle broke out when the lawyers tried to shut down the registry office in the city civil court building. Various associations of court clerks, deed writers and typists have extended support to the lawyers’ agitation.

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