Karnataka High Court Initiates Suo-Motu Contempt Proceedings Against Bar Associations Which Boycotted Court Work

Mustafa Plumber

11 Feb 2021 11:21 AM GMT

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  • Karnataka High Court Initiates Suo-Motu Contempt Proceedings Against Bar Associations Which Boycotted Court Work

    The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the Registrar General of the High Court to initiate suo-motu contempt proceedings against the officer bearers of Bar Associations in the state who gave a call to its members for abstaining from court work.A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said: "It must be noted here that in the wake of Covid-19, all...

    The Karnataka High Court on Thursday directed the Registrar General of the High Court to initiate suo-motu contempt proceedings against the officer bearers of Bar Associations in the state who gave a call to its members for abstaining from court work.

    A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said: "It must be noted here that in the wake of Covid-19, all courts were adversely affected which brought about suffering to the litigants as well as to the members of the bar. Now that normalcy has been substantially restored, bar associations cannot take recourse to strike/boycott."

    It added : "We therefore direct the Registry to initiate suo-motu contempt proceedings against the office bearers of the aforesaid Bar associations which took recourse to abstaining from the court work. Separate contempt petitions for initiating suo-moto action shall be filed to which officer bearers of the bar association shall be made party. Registrar General to take note of this order and take appropriate steps".

    The bench while issuing the direction took into account the report submitted by the registry which gave details of Bar Association in different districts which gave a call to its members to abstain from court work.

    As per the report, district Mandya Bar Association abstained from court work on Jan 4, 2021. The Bar Association at Maddur gave call to abstaining from court work on January 4 and February 6. The Bar Association at Srirangapatna, Malavalli, Krishnarajpete, abstained from court work on January 4. The Bar Association at Pandavapura, abstained from court work on 4, 15 and 30 January. The bar association at Davanagere abstained from work on January 29 and February 8.

    The bench on going through the report noted that "At least two Bar Associations have taken recourse to boycott of court proceedings after appeal was made by the Chief Justice, on February 3."

    Recently, the Chief Justice Abhay Oka had made an appeal to the Members of the Bar Associations in the state to refrain from abstaining from the Court work or from boycotting the Court proceedings, irrespective of the genuineness of the cause and not to indulge in such illegalities. The appeal read "I appeal to the members of the Bar to cooperate with the court for disposal of the maximum number of cases."

    The appeal read "You are all well aware that due to the Covid-19 pandemic the Courts in the state could not function normally for a few months and it caused hardship and sufferings to the litigants and also to the members of the Bar. The High Court of Karnataka took all possible steps to restore the normal functioning of the Courts in a phased manner and now it is nearing complete normalcy. It is distressing to note that even under these circumstances, the members of some of the Bar Associations have resorted to acts of abstaining from or boycotting the Court for various reasons. Such acts of abstaining from the Courts cause interference in the administration of justice. Such acts also cause inconvenience and prejudice to the litigants. During the pandemic, notwithstanding the challenges, the District and Trial Courts in the State have started functioning. But certain Bar Associations have taken recourse to illegal methods of boycotting Courts. Such a step will adversely affect the members of the Bar."

    The appeal quoted from Dr. B.R.Ambedkar's famous "Grammar of Anarchy" speech in the Constituent Assembly 25th November 1949 as follows:

    "If we wish to maintain democracy not merely in form, but also in fact, what must we do? The first thing in my judgment we must do is to hold fast to constitutional methods of achieving our social and economic objectives. It means we must abandon the bloody methods of revolution. It means that we must abandon the method of civil disobedience, non-cooperation and Satyagraha. When there was no way left for constitutional methods for achieving economic and social objectives, there was a great deal of justification for unconstitutional methods. But where constitutional methods are open, there can be no justification for these unconstitutional methods.These methods are nothing but the Grammar of Anarchy and the sooner they are abandoned, the better for us."

    The message further said : "It is a settled position of law that the acts of abstaining from Court work or boycotting the Court proceedings and the acts of the office bearers of the Bar Associations calling upon the members of the Bar to abstain from the Court work or to boycott the Court proceedings amounts to interference with administration of justice. Advocates are the officers of the Court and enjoy special status in society. They have obligations and duties to ensure smooth functioning of the Court".

    In his appeal, the Chief Justice has also referred to judgement passed by the Supreme Court in the matter of Ex-Captain Harish Uppal vs. Union of India and others, reported in (2003) 2 SCC 45 and in the matter of Krishnakant Tamrakar vs. State of Madhya Pradesh, reported in (2018) 17 SCC 27, to appeal to all the members of all the Bar to refrain from abstaining from court work or from boycotting court work.

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