The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front unites against lawyers

Calcutta, Dec. 16: The ruling Left Front today termed the 35-day lawyers’ strike “illegal”, but kept the door ajar for a negotiated settlement by asking the government to initiate another round of talks with the lawyers’ associations.

“We believe the lawyers’ strike is patently illegal,” CPM state secretary Anil Biswas said at an emergency meeting at the party’s headquarters where the coalition partners reviewed the forced suspension of work in Bengal’s 568 law courts because of the protest against increased court fees.

“A large section of the lawyers wants to discharge their duties in the courtrooms but cannot because of the obstruction from agitating lawyers who are few in numbers and do not hesitate to use force. We are appealing to the striking lawyers to resume duties immediately,” Biswas added.

The Front partners, who for the first time in the past one month spoke in one voice, claimed that more lawyers were seen reporting for duty but were obstructed by the strikers.

Bikash Bhattacharjee, leader of the CPM-controlled Democratic Lawyers’ Association who attended the meeting, said the association would move the Supreme Court if the striking lobbies continued to obstruct lawyers willing to resume duties. However, to avoid a showdown with the well-entrenched lobbies, the government would make another appeal tomorrow.

Law minister Nisith Adhikary will issue a statement tomorrow inviting the lobbies to another round of talks.

The state council said the strike was a “legal expression” of the protest. The Front leaders are “scared as the strike has taken the shape of a mass movement. So it is trying to break the strike,” its chairman said.

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