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Lawyers go on heat holiday

Calcutta, June 3: This time last year, the Alipore Court grabbed headlines after its lawyers successfully lobbied the Bar Council of India to allow them and their counterparts in the trial courts across the country to dispense with the regulation black gown and bow tie.

Today, more than 2,000 Alipore Court lawyers went on a holiday till the weekend attempting to effect another summer-time change — a vacation. If successful, trial courts all over the country will enjoy summer holidays very much like the judges and lawyers in the high courts and the Supreme Court.

Though the judges were at work today, about three dozen benches in the court were virtually idle as the lawyers chose to keep away to press their demand for a summer vacation.

At least four litigants and two lawyers fell ill during court hours in the past two days, in a way, lending force to the lawyers’ demand.

“It is only fair for us to expect the authorities to introduce a proper summer vacation,” said Dibyendu Biswas, an executive committee member of the state bar council.

“The judges and the lawyers of the Supreme Court enjoy a two-month summer vacation. The high court lawyers get a fortnight-long summer holiday. What have we done wrong to be not allowed a similar vacation'” asked Biswas, also a lawyer at the Alipore Court.

However, when the lawyers went on an unscheduled holiday to beat the heat, they were actually embarking on a path shown by their counterparts in the trial courts in Burdwan, Birbhum, Purulia, Bankura, Midnapore, Hooghly and several other districts. All these district courts have been almost idle as the lawyers there had stayed away from work because of the scorching weather.

The judges, though, were attending court as usual.

The lawyers met senior functionaries of the bar council in the evening with the suggestion that they convey the proposal for a summer recess to the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court. The lawyers also sought approval from the high court for holding morning sessions — 6 am to 11 am — till the demand for summer vacation got the higher court’s consent.

Bar associations in Suri, Asansol, Burdwan, Midnapore, Khatra, Bankura and Durgapur placed the same demand before the council, which decided to raise the issue before the high court administration as well as the government.

Former chairman and member of the council Saradindu Biswas said the body’s representatives would meet Chief Justice A.K. Mathur after the high court reopens on June 9.

“We will request him to consider introduction of at least a fortnight’s vacation in the lower courts as well,” Biswas said.

“Even today, we received letters and calls from members across the state asking us to forward the issue to the appropriate forum so that the courts are allowed to run in the morning,” said executive chairman of the council Uttam Majumdar.

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