Chief Justice A.K. Mathur on Monday initiated a move to resolve the six-day-long stalemate in the state judiciary, following a ceasework called by the West Bengal Bar Council to protest the government’s Ordinance increasing court fees.
The chief justice met lawyers’ representatives and advocate-general Balai Ray separately during the day. Justice Mathur asked the lawyers to withdraw their agitation. He requested the advocate-general to ask the government to consider the demands of the lawyers — that the decision of giving effect to the Ordinance be reconsidered and that court fees at enhanced rates not be accepted till the Ordinance is tabled in the next Assembly session.
Ray told Metro he would convey the chief justice’s message to the government. He added, however, that it would be impossible for the government to roll back the decision, as the Ordinance had been listed for discussion in the next Assembly session.
On Monday, the CPM-affiliated Democratic Lawyers’ Association met law minister Nisith Adhikari and urged a government rethink on the Ordinance, “for the sake of the common litigants of the state”. The minister hinted that the government had decided to revise some clauses. “But our hands are tied, pending approval of the Assembly, which is scheduled to sit in session from December 9,” Adhikari told the lawyers.
Meanwhile, responding to the Bar Council call, thousands of lawyers joined the hungerstrike in front of the southern gate of the high court (Picture on Page 22) from Monday morning. Lawyers from the districts came in busloads to attend the sit-in. Saradindu Biswas, Council executive committee member, said they would meet the secretaries and presidents of the Bar associations from all other states on November 20 to decide whether the ceasework would be be continued after November 22.