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Judge boycott splits lawyers

Members of Jharkhand High Court Advocates’ Association clash during the meeting in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Prashant Mitra)

High court lawyers, debating whether to continue their boycott of acting chief justice D.N. Patel’s court, came to blows on Wednesday after a meeting of their association was unable to come to a final decision on the next course of action.

While those in favour of calling off the agitation demanded the disbanding of the Jharkhand High Court Advocates Association, others insisted their boycott should continue till the acting chief justice was transferred from Jharkhand High Court.

The association decided to boycott Justice Patel’s court on August 22 when the acting chief justice refused to meet a delegation of advocates who wanted to discuss with him certain operational issues like group insurance schemes, inadequate seating arrangements and poor parking facilities.

On Wednesday, however, the two hour-long meeting turned into a free for all after no side was willing to give in. Lawyers gesticulated wildly and hurled abuses at each other. With the proceedings getting out of control, association secretary Deepak Kumar was forced to call off the meeting.

He said another meeting of lawyers would be held on September 9 when the issue would be put to vote.

During the meeting, Kumar told the general body of the association that as secretary, his primary objective was to look after the welfare of lawyers.

He said that Justice Patel had changed his mind and had agreed to look into the demands of the association. Hence, the association should reconsider its decision on the boycott, he added.

Association president Mahesh Tiwary said the boycott call was “illegal” and the general body should take a decision on attending the acting chief justice’s court.

Advocate Hemant Shikarwar cited a personal experience to justify calling off the boycott.

He said Justice Patel had gone out of his way to help him when he was receiving threat calls from a criminal and had taken up the matter with the top brass of Jharkhand police.

However, advocate Nand Kishore Pandey disagreed with Kumar. He said since the association had called for a total boycott of Justice Patel's court till his transfer, advocates should not call off the strike midway.

“Justice Patel has not been transferred out yet and resuming work will mean embarrassment for the association,” Pandey said.

Navin Kumar Singh, the president of Jharkhand High Court Young Advocates Association, claimed the office bearers of the advocates association with misleading them.

“The strike against Justice Patel was called at the instance of a handful of advocates. The sentiments of the entire Bar is at stake and to go back on the earlier resolution will show the lawyers to be weak and fragile in sticking to resolutions taken in the general body meeting of the association,” Singh said.

After the meeting, a group of advocates met Justice Patel in his court and apologised to him.


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