An NRI doctor, Kunal Saha approached the Apex Court raising the issue of ongoing lawyer strike in Calcutta High Court contending that the advocates have no right to strike or boycott court proceedings to settle their personal grievances. A three-judge bench of Justices T S Thakur and V Gopala Gowda and R Banumath has agreed to hear his plea.
The Doctor in his petition claims that he “came to India to argue an appeal in person in the High Court but due to the ongoing strike it was difficult for him to continue to stay here for an indefinite period." He states that he has is not able to pursue his case in the Calcutta High Court as lawyers were boycotting a particular bench there. He urged the Apex Court clarify "whether some advocates can frustrate the course of delivery of timely justice by boycotting the proceedings before a court in order to settle their grievances against a particular judge." The plea also pointed out that the ongoing strike had brought endless miseries to numerous other litigants by causing needless delay in justice. In the petition, Saha contends that advocates have no right to strike or boycott court proceedings to settle their personal grievances.
Saha's wife had died due to gross medical negligence of a senior doctor. Supreme Court had awarded a compensation of around Rs 11.5 crore, to be paid by the doctor and some others. However, the same doctor was selected by the government of West Bengal for its highest award in medicine, 'Bangabibhusan'. It was in this context Saha moved High court praying for a direction to Government not to confer Bangabibushan to the doctor who was held responsible for gross medical negligence. Justices Girish Chandra Gupta and Shib Sadhan Sadhu of Calcutta High Court is yet to hear this petition.
Last month, the Lawyers had stayed away from Calcutta High Court , following the local High court bar association’s majority resolution, due to the heat. The Chief Justice had likened these striking lawyers to schoolchildren and had said that the decision to stay away from courts, was irritating and painful. The Supreme Court, in Ex-Capt. Harish Uppal vs Union Of India (2003) 2 SCC 45), has held that lawyers have no right to go on strike or give a call for boycott, not even on a token strike. That Judgment by the apex court concludes by issuing following directions
If a lawyer, holding a Vakalat of a client, abstains from attending Court due to a strike call, he shall be personally liable to pay costs which shall be addition to damages which he might have to pay his client for loss suffered by him.