The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lawyers divided on strike withdrawal

A split occurred on Saturday in the ranks of the agitating lawyers, with sections openly divided on whether to continue the strike which has paralysed operations of 568 lawcourts across Bengal.

Some influential district-based bar associations have threatened to carry on the ceasework even as the state bar council, the apex body steering the strike, appeared to be in favour of withdrawal from Sunday.

The lawyers have been on strike since November 13, protesting the government’s decision to hike court fees.

The majority in the state bar council’s executive committee is in favour of withdrawal as it wants to comply with a request from the Bar Council of India (BCI) on the issue.

On Friday, BCI vice-chairman Adhish Chandra Agarwal wrote to state bar council chairman Amiya Chatterjee, urging the Bengal body to call off the ceasework “immediately” in response to a Supreme Court verdict declaring the strike by lawyers as illegal.

However, several bar associations are unwilling to call off the agitation until their demands are met. Anticipating a withdrawal call by the state body, bar associations of different courts declared on Saturday that they would continue the movement on their own. “Instead of reducing the court fees, the government has increased the rates in some cases,” alleged Uttam Majumdar, former secretary of Calcutta High Court bar association.

Chatterjee admitted on Saturday that they were “in a dilemma” since the apex body at the national level had asked them to call off the stir. “We will have to decide in a day or two,” he said.

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