|CASE IN POINT
(142 posts lying vacant)
Practising lawyers: 26,000
Pending cases in high court: 2.52 lakh
Pending cases in subordinate courts: 5.67 lakh
Calcutta, Sept. 7: Defying a Supreme Court bar, lawyers across the state will cease work tomorrow to protest against last Friday’s police action against their colleagues in Lucknow.
In December 2002, the apex court said lawyers cannot resort to a ceasework as “they are representatives of litigants in courts”. The order said litigants cannot be denied justice because lawyers are absent from the courts.
But normal work in courts across Bengal will come to a stop tomorrow though the judges would attend office.
All bar associations in the state have adopted separate resolutions in support of the ceasework.
The trial of mafia don Aftab Ansari in connection with the 2001 abduction of the Khadim’s owner, which was scheduled to begin tomorrow, will not in the absence of lawyers.
The police in Lucknow had to resort to a lathicharge to quell a protest by members of the local bar association against the assault of a lawyer. A former chairman of the Awadh Bar Association was beaten up in the melee.
Sanatan Mukhopadhyay, the chairman of the Bengal bar council, said: “We have asked our members to organise daylong dharnas in and outside court premises tomorrow to express solidarity with the lawyers in Uttar Pradesh.”
He added that at a meeting on Saturday, the Bar Council of India adopted a resolution asking its state counterparts to organise protests tomorrow.
The proposed ceasework has the support of the pro-Left Democratic Lawyers’ Association. “We are against any sort of ceasework by lawyers. But we cannot sit idle when some members of the Lucknow Bar Association are subjected to torture and humiliation unleashed by the law-enforcing agency,” said vice-president Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.
Sources said tomorrow’s strike would be “total”, thanks to the participation of lawyers owing allegiance to the Democratic Lawyers’ Association.
Members of the Democratic Lawyers’ Association had defied a ceasework called by the bar council in 2001. Some of them had even moved high court saying the council had threatened “action” against them for attending work.
A court officer said: “The council committee had to give an undertaking before the court saying it would not take any action against lawyers for attending courts during the ceasework.”
The Bar Association of Calcutta High Court today adopted a separate resolution in support of tomorrow’s ceasework. “None of our over 8,000 members will attend proceedings tomorrow as a mark of protest,” said Sardar Amjad Ali, the president of the association.
Bar council chief Debyendu Biswas said lawyers will boycott the Sealdah, Alipore and city civil and sessions courts.
Ashok Deb, who represents the all-India bar council in the state, demanded a judicial probe into the police action on lawyers in Uttar Pradesh.
“We demand a probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into the police atrocities. Those responsible for the high-handedness should be brought to book,” he said.
He added that punishment meted out to the policemen in Uttar Pradesh will act as a deterrent for their counterparts in Bengal. Deb alleged: “Policemen across Bengal unleash atrocities on us on flimsy grounds.”