The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lawyers stray above law

New Delhi, Aug. 6: On a day the Supreme Court reasserted that such strikes are illegal, lawyers stayed away from work, paralysing the district courts here.

The one-day token protest against the formation of Lok Adalats came despite the Supreme Court iterating an earlier order saying lawyers could not call even a day’s token strike.

Rajiv Khosla, president of the Delhi Bar Association, said the strike was total in the Tis Hazari and Patiala House court complex. But in the Karkardooma district court, “lawyers worked today as elections to the Bar Association there had already been declared”, he added.

The Delhi association is the largest in the world, with over 11,000 lawyer members, Khosla says. The Beijing Bar Association, with 8,000 members, is the next largest.

Khosla said: “The Supreme Court, instead of pronouncing such judgments (on strikes by government employees), should come forward to rectify such mistakes by the executive like forming Lok Adalats and thereby preventing litigants from going to courts of law”.

Speaking in the deserted Tis Hazari court complex, Khosla said lawyers would continue to defy such “impractical” judgments.

In today’s ruling, a Supreme Court bench of Justices M.B. Shah and A.R. Lakshmanan referred to a court decision on a previous countrywide strike by lawyers. “Lawyers have no right to go on strike or give a call for boycott and they cannot even go on a token strike,” the bench said.

The court said a strike could not be justified, be it for a just cause or not. It added: “Take a strike in any field, it can be easily seen that the weapon does more harm than justice. The sufferer is society — the public at large.”

Khosla termed this “impractical” and said the apex court should consider how the formation of Lok Adalats would affect litigants. He said a litigant could not go to court if the other party to the dispute moves the Lok Adalat.

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