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Advocates back at Justice Patel’s court

Lawyers resumed work at the court of acting chief justice D.N. Patel on Thursday after the Jharkhand High Court Advocates Association, left red-faced on Wednesday after members came to blows over continuing their boycott of the judge, withdrew its strike as of now.

Justice Patel, along with Justice P.P. Bhatt, walked into court No. 1 packed with members of the association in the morning. After acknowledging the presence of the advocates, who had earlier sought his transfer, with a smile, the acting chief justice said: “It’s good to see you all.”

He then went on to take up the cases.

Earlier in the day, Jharkhand High Court Advocates Association held an emergency meeting at its office on the high court premises and issued a notification, saying that since Justice Patel had agreed to their demands on issues involving their welfare, the strike was put in abeyance.

“Our cause has been addressed. Justice Patel assured the association that the demands of the advocates would be fulfilled at the earliest. Hence, we decided to keep our strike in abeyance,” association secretary Deepak Kumar said.

President of the association Mahesh Tiwary said the strike was illegal in the very first place. “We ought to work for the welfare of our clients and need to protect their interests in court. Refraining from work causes losses to both litigants and advocates,” Tiwary pointed out.

The association decided to boycott Justice Patel’s court on August 22 when he 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. Despite several rounds meetings, the dispute could not be resolved and the association stuck to its stand to continue the boycott till Justice Patel was transferred out of the state.

But at Wednesday’s general body meeting, a section of members said the strike should be called off as the acting chief justice had agreed to look into their demands, while another faction insisted that their boycott should continue. The situation soon snowballed into a crisis with the two groups coming to blows.