HC Disapproves Jammu Lawyers’ Strike

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JAMMU – Strongly disapproving the ongoing lawyers’ strike and their acts of blocking access to various courts in Jammu region, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday issued notices to several advocates spearheading the stir, seeking their stands on why the contempt of court proceeding be not launched against them.

Work in the high court and its subordinate courts has been affected in most parts of the Jammu region with JKHCBA observing an indefinite strike since November 1 against the government’s decision to divest courts of its powers to register various documents and vest the same with the Revenue Department.

A bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal issued notices to lawyers, taking suomotucongnisance of the strike, and sought advocates’ replies within two weeks.

The bench fixed January 20 as the next date of hearing.

Upset with lawyers continuing strike for nearly a month and half and not only blocking access of common people to courts but even locking judicial officers and others inside the trial court premises, the bench said, “We have no doubt that such conduct is in blatant violation of the mandate of law… and cannot be condoned.”

The bench issued notices to advocates spearheading the stir, saying “we would become a party to such violations if we continue to ignore such actions which have been held by the Supreme Court to be clearly contumacious and falling under the serious category of criminal contempt of court, professional misconduct and even criminal offences”.

“The mere call for meeting or the very decision to proceed on strike; remaining absent from the court and boycott of judicial proceedings; locking courts and preventing entry to those wanting to enter (the court premises) are ‘completely illegal’ rendering all persons, responsible for the same, liable to appropriate action as mandated by the Supreme Court of India,” the bench said in its 46-page order.

Taking note of Jammu’s principal district judge’s reports, the bench appeared to be especially perturbed over the lawyers’ acts of blocking access to the district courts complex on November 4 and 6.

“A report from the principal district and sessions judge, Jammu said the main entrance of the district courts building complex was blocked on November 4, 2019 by certain striking lawyers.

“On intervention of the principal district judge, the lawyers permitted a few undertrial prisoners and ladies to enter the court complex, but the same was blocked again,” the bench noted.

“On November 6, the striking lawyers illegally began checking identity cards of those who wanted to enter into the court building. Yet again few staff members, undertrial prisoners and some accused were able to enter the court,” the bench noted.

“As a result of the main gate being locked, the judges, staff and those who were inside the district courts were confined therein by these striking lawyers,” the bench noted, while pointing out that illegally confining a person was a penal offence under the Indian Penal Code.

The bench issued to notices whom it identified on the basis of reports from the Jammu’s principal district and sessions judge as allegedly interfering with the adminstration of justice and blocking access to court premises.

The lawyers identified by the bench as blocking access to courts are S Baldev Singh, NitinBakshi, AzharUsman Khan, Mahinder Singh Palli, Suresh and Rahul. (PTI)

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