The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Protest, but not through strike, says SC

New Delhi, Dec. 17: The Supreme Court today said lawyers have no right to go on strike.

The ruling came on a writ petition by a former army captain, Harish Uppal, who had sought a ban on lawyers’ strikes in the country.

A full five-member Constitution bench, headed by chief justice G.B. Pattanaik, said: “The protest, if any is required, can only be by giving press statements, TV interviews, carrying out of court premises banners and/or placards, wearing black or white or any colour arm bands, peaceful protest marches outside and away from the court premises, going on dharnas or relay fasts etc.”

In no case should the courts adjourn the hearing of cases if they (lawyers) go on strike, they added. “The courts must not be privy to a strike by lawyers and should go on with the hearing of the cases.”

The judges said the “lawyer”, being part and parcel of the legal system, is instrumental in upholding the rule of law and “can hardly be heard to say that he will take law in his own hands”. A lawyer who “behaves unprofessionally” will not have the right to continue to appear in courts, they added. They noted that the judiciary was already “over burdened”.

“Strike was a weapon used for getting justice by downtrodden, poor persons or industrial employees who were not having any other method of redressing their grievances. But by any standard, professionals belonging to a noble profession who are considered to be an intelligent class, cannot have any justification for remaining absent from duty,” the bench said.

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