The Supreme Court of India on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation that had sought to declare strikes by lawyers as illegal. The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, which also had Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya said that a judgment of the Constitution Bench was already there on the issue.
The Bench said, “This court has already given a judgment and laid down the procedure to be followed for calling a strike. It is for the Bar Council of India to take some measures. We can’t be giving directions. Litigants can always appear in the court in person if lawyers are unable to appear in court because of strike.”
Meanwhile, the All India Bar Association has given a call for a strike, all across India, in light of a lawyer being killed in the Court premises in Allahabad. However, the Supreme Court Bar Association has refused to accept the same and has said that the Apex Court will function normally on Monday.
The Supreme Court in the judgment delivered by a Constitution bench in 2002 and said, “Lawyers have no right to go on strike, call for a boycott of courts or even go on a token strike. Those advocates who refused to participate in the strikes called by bar associations could not be penalised. All lawyers must boldly refuse to abide by the strike calls given by bar associations. No threat or coercion of any kind can be held against an advocate for not participating in the strike.”
Holding that the strikes were against administration of justice, the Apex Court in that judgment had opined, “The lawyer will be personally liable to pay cost to the court in addition to damages to the litigant, if both suffered due to the strike.”
The Petitioner in this case was aggrieved by repeated strikes that happened by the lawyers of Orissa Bar Association, which had in effect crippled the justice delivery system.