The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Barristers back striking lawyers in public

Calcutta, Dec. 24: Forty-two days into the lawyers’ ceasework, eminent barristers added grist to the mill by openly criticising the court fee hike and saying the “poor litigants” were worst hit by the government’s decision.

Jayanta Mitra, Debal Banerjee, Sibaprosad Mukherjee, Moloy Ghosh and Pratim K. Roy, all barristers of Calcutta High Court, convened a news conference and requested law minister Nisith Adhikary to make a thorough revision of the hike — especially in the categories of suits and appeals, wills, succession certificates, arbitration fees and in cases of bail and cheque bouncing.

Describing their suggestions as a supplement to the agitation by the bar council, the barristers said they had to come out in the open as the “movement” had reached a juncture where advice from all quarters were needed. “We are just forwarding our suggestions in regard to the revision of court fees,” said Mitra.

He added that there was a common feeling among the people that the lawyers were continuing their strike because the hike would hit their business. “It is absolutely untrue. We have nothing to lose if the government earns money from court fees. Here, the lawyers are fighting for the cause of the poor litigants by sacrificing their fees,” he said.

Mitra said he would rather ask the people to think what benefit the lawyers had by abstaining from appearing in courts for such a long period. “Thousands of junior lawyers are facing starvation as they have had no income for the past two months,” he said.

At Writers’ Buildings, the law minister reacted sharply to the state bar council’s decision to extend the ceasework even after his written assurance that the lawyers’ grievances would be discussed.

“The lawyers should not resort to strong arm tactics. They should act on intelligence and rationally,” Adhikary said. However, he was hopeful that the stalemate would end soon as there were many “intelligent members” in the council’s executive committee.

Council chairman Amiya Chatterjee said the committee would meet representatives of various bar associations in the state on Thursday to seek their opinion on calling off the ceasework. “The executive will meet on the same day to discuss terminating the strike,” he said.

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