“Amounts to cognizable offence in law”, Calcutta HC comes down heavily on lawyers’ strike

Recalling the Supreme Court's observations, the High Court also observed that, "every resolution to strike and abstain from work is per se contempt."
“Amounts to cognizable offence in law”, Calcutta HC comes down heavily on lawyers’ strike

The Calcutta High Court was recently constrained to make stern observations against lawyers’ strike, after an ongoing strike obstructed the progress of a criminal case.

The strike had prevented the police from even entering the High Court premises to produce the original case diary before the Bench. Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Suvra Ghosh took critical note over the same, remarking,

In the present case the striking lawyers have not only brought the administration of justice to a standstill but have also in a flagrant manner obstructed the police personnel from discharging their official duties which amount to cognizable offence in law.”

The Court made the observation in the backdrop of the law already laid down by the Supreme Court on various occasions, including in the cases of Harish Uppal (Ex-Capt.) vs. Union of India, Hussain and Another vs. Union of India and Krishnakant Tamrakar vs. State of MP.

Reiterating the law laid down in these cases, the High Court recorded, inter alia,

Only in rarest of rare cases where the dignity, integrity and independence of the Bar and/or the Bench are at stake and a protest abstention from work not more than a day may be entertained and to do so, the President of the Bar must consult and seek permission from the Chief Justice or the District Judge in the matter…

… frequent strikes, abstention from work by lawyers or frequent suspension of court work after condolence references is one of the prime reason for delay in disposal of criminal cases...

… every resolution to strike and abstain from work is per se contempt and necessary mechanism to enforce the mandate of the Court needs to be put in place till proper legislation to remedy the situation is enacted.

In view of the same, the High Court has now directed the concerned Superintendent of Police to inquire into the matter and take necessary steps to ensure that the strike does not obstruct the administration of justice.

The Court further cautioned,

Any obstruction to judges, police personnel or other public servants in that regard would amount to cognizable offence and prompt steps shall be taken against the offenders.”

The Bench has also directed that a copy of the order be issued to the concerned Superintendent of Police and the District and Sessions Judge, Paschim Medinipur for intimation and prompt compliance.

The matter has been scheduled to be taken up again on January 8.

[Read the Order]

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