A seven Judge Bench of the Allahabad High Court has taken suo motu cognizance of the disruptions occurring in the functioning of the District Courts and Allahabad High Court, due to strikes by the members of the Bar, as well as the prevalent security concerns. The Bench comprised of Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, Justice Rakesh Tiwari, Justice Rajes Kumar, Justice V.K. Shukla, Justice Arun Tandon, Justice Tarun Agarwala and Justice Dilip Gupta.
There were clashes by advocates in Allahabad after one of the robed brethren was shot dead earlier this month. This suo motu action was taken after a group of lawyers disrupted the functioning of the Allahabad High Court, even after the strike was called off. The office bearers of the Allahabad High Court Bar Association and of the Advocates' Association have been directed by the Court to inform it about the identity of those who were involved in the incident, on 7th April.
The Bench, at the outset, relied on the Supreme Court decision in the case of Ex-Capt. Harish Uppal vs. Union of India and another, AIR 2003 SC 739, to lay down the established position that “a strike by the members of the Bar on the call of the office bearers of the Bar Associations is without the authority of law and is illegal”.
The Bench also examined the issue of security within the precincts of the District Courts across the State of Uttar Pradesh. It stated that firearms of every nature whatsoever must be prohibited from the precincts of the Courts save and except for members of the security establishment who are deputed for official duty to the Court.
The Court raised the issue whether right to practice should be granted to a person who has been convicted of an offence punishable with imprisonment of a certain term, say in excess of seven years. The issue was however left for further deliberation.
The Bench proposed to issue directions on the following aspects after hearing the views of diverse stakeholders in the justice delivery system:
“(i) In order to prevent the entry of unauthorized persons to court premises in the garb of advocates, a roll of advocates in the District Courts should immediately be prepared. Advocates must be given Biometric cards;
(ii) A similar roll of Clerks of Advocates should be also prepared and they should also be given Biometric cards. Advocate Clerks shall wear a black coat in the court campus without which they shall not be allowed to enter the premises;
(iii) For the purpose of entry of litigants, on the letters/identification of Advocates on Roll, appearing in concerned case, entry passes may be issued;
(iv) With regard to Government Officials, entry passes should be issued on similar letters/identification by Government Counsel practicing in the District Courts;
(v) For Government Officials/employees who regularly come to the Court, monthly passes may be issued, on the recommendation of the District Magistrate/Senior Superintendent of Police or the District Government Counsel, Civil or Criminal, as the case may be;
(vi) The employees of Courts should also be issued Biometric cards;
(vii) The entry in Court campuses should be regulated for the litigants, Advocates and others from one or two gates, under close scrutiny by security officials posted there, who shall be responsible for checking of identification cards or entry passes and frisking of suspicious persons;
(viii) The District Judge should be empowered to take appropriate action against any person who unauthorizedly enters the premises. He should also be authorized specifically to check and prevent entry of any person causing nuisance or disturbance in the courts or campus;
(ix) In some district Judgeships, for facilitating regular functioning of Advocates, canteens/cafeterias, photostat machine shops etc. have been allowed to operate. Their employees should also be issued similar entry passes by District Judges;
(x) No person, except security personnel deputed for safety of Court premises/Judicial Officers, should be allowed to carry any weapon or other dangerous instrument, which may cause serious harm to anyone present in the Court campus. This should strictly be prohibited;
(xi) Provisions of imposing fine, if anyone violates regulatory measures, are also required to be made. District Judges should be authorized to control entry of anyone in the court campus and to check and restrict entry of any unwarranted persons or antisocial elements who are likely to create nuisance in the Court campus, for such period with certain other conditions as he may deem fit and proper;
(xii) In many of the District Courts, boundary walls are broken or are of inadequate height. Barbed wire fencing is not installed and in many places boundary walls are damaged, permitting unauthorized entry. These boundary walls should immediately be directed to be repaired/ constructed and barbed wire should also be placed wherever it is absent;
(xiii) In the campus as also in the corridors of District Courts, appropriate numbers of CCTV cameras be installed, under close monitoring by expert police officials; and
(xiv) Scanners and metal detectors should also be installed.”
Similar security arrangements have been directed to be envisaged for the Allahabad High Court as well.
It hence directed issuance of notices to the Secretaries of the recognized Bar Associations in all the 75 districts of the State of Uttar Pradesh, the Bar Council of India and the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh, to the Secretaries of the High Court Bar Association, Allahabad and Oudh Bar Association, Lucknow, and to the State Government through the Principal Secretary (Home) and the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police.
The Bench also directed the District Judges to submit weekly reports, during the pendency of these proceedings, highlighting any attempt to disrupt the proceedings of the Court. The matter has now been listed for 7th April.
Read the order here.