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Bar Association urges Calcutta HC to withdraw decision to resume physical functioning on June 11; members resolve to not participate

The Calcutta High Court had recently decided to resume physical hearing of cases on a small scale and on an experimental basis from June 11 following months of restricted functioning in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis

Aishwarya Iyer

Taking note of the recent notification issued by the Calcutta High Court on resuming their physical functioning, the Bar Association of Calcutta High Court has written to the Chief Justice urging that the June 5 Notification be withdrawn.

The Calcutta High Court had recently notified its decision to resume physical hearing of cases on a small scale and on an experimental basis from June 11 following months of restricted functioning amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The said notification also charted out the manner and days on which the Bench will sit and way in which cases will be taken up.

After the notification was issued, the High Bar Association members convened in a online virtual meeting, wherein the advocates are said to have expressed fear and apprehension that the notification may affect the security and livelihood of lawyers.

The Association has attempted to highlight the interest of a large number of advocates, who are stated to have expressed that the June 5 notification it will affect not only their safety and security during COVID-19 but also adversely affect the professional career of over 80% of the Advocates practicing in the High Court at Calcutta.

The Bar Association alleges that the said notification was issued in complete disregard to the circular issued on May 13. In the said circular, guidelines for the potential functioning of the Court post the COVID-19 lockdown were issued, while stating that it may not be feasible to resume normal Court work even at a reduced level unless certain conditions were met.

Further, it is stated that the lawyers had earlier urged the Court to consider resuming its physical functioning only after public transportation services were resumed following the lockdown, and after the Court premises were properly sanitised.

Raising apprehension that these considerations have not been met, the Association has resolved that till the Notification is withdrawn, the members will not participate in physical functioning of the High Court on any of the dates fixed for such purpose.

The Association has emphasised that this act should not be construed as a boycott, adding that it has not decided to totally abstain from participating in High Court proceedings.

In this regard, it is clarified that its members have not been restrained from participating in virtual hearings at the High Court.

The Bar association has further sought an opportunity to submit its representation on the issue before the Court. In the meantime, the Association has urged the High Court not to give effect to the June 5 Notification.

Read the Letter here:

Calcutta High Court Bar Association letter dated 8 June.pdf
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