The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lokpal snub to lawyers

New Delhi, Dec. 29: The government has decided to go ahead with the establishment of permanent lokpals for utility services, refusing to give in to the demands of lawyers that proposed amendments to the Legal Services Authority Act be scrapped.

Under the Act, the government will establish permanent lokpals for disputes involving utility services such as cases of inflated electricity and telephone bills.

Lawyers across the country protested against the proposed amendment and recently struck work, despite a Supreme Court judgment holding strikes by lawyers illegal.

Official sources said the government was emboldened by the apex court’s decision. The Supreme Court had earlier upheld amendments to the Civil Procedure Code. Lawyers had opposed the amendments and even gone on strike against the move.

The Bar Council of India was against amendments to both the Civil Procedure Code and the Legal Services Authority Act. At its Guwahati meeting, the council had also decided to file a review appeal against the apex court ruling that “lawyers have no right to strike”.

Council sources said a meeting of all state bar council chairmen, presidents of all high court bar associations and various other state-level bodies would meet on an “all-India basis” and assess the implication of the Supreme Court’s decision banning strikes by lawyers.

They added that all state bar councils as well as the central council would file review petitions and “flood the apex court” with appeals.

The December 17 full five-member Constitution bench judgment had observed that there was no reason for lawyers to abstain from courts in the name of strikes.

The bench also held that in the “rarest of rare cases”, wherein the majesty of the judiciary was attacked or the dignity of the bar and the bench was at stake, could lawyers resort to a day’s token strike, and that too, in consultation with the chief justice or the district judge concerned.

Lawyers would also “review” whether to take further steps, strike or file a review petition in the apex court, even in the case of amendments to the civil code, the sources added.

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