SC Reprimands Odisha Lawyers Boycotting Court Proceedings, Said ‘Public Cannot Suffer Due to Lawyers’ Strike


Aastha Thakur

Published on: 15 November 2022 at 18:22 IST

The Supreme Court of India recently rebuke the lawyers’ associations in Odisha for boycotting court proceedings, that has led to loss of working hours, bringing the judicial system to a standstill.

The bench of Justice SK Kaul and Justice Abhay S Oka warned the associations and their office in-charge, the strict action would be taken against guilty party to the extent of ‘losing their employment’ and expects full work by all bar associations.

The Bench opined that the public cannot be made to endure the consequences of the lawyers’ strike. Moreover, the bench threatened to suspend all 20 district bar associations in Odisha if they did not end their decision to boycott courts within 48 hours.

The court said, “Public cannot be treated like this. This is ridiculous. At the end of the day, they are sufferers because of you.”

The court sought reply from BCI regarding this issue, where Bar Council informed the bench regarding the order issued suspending office bearers of 5 out of 20 bar associations.

The bench however, was not satisfied with the reply and asserted that, “Even if you suspend strike, we will not stay the notices. We want you to know the consequences of what you have done.”

The high court was represented by Senior Advocate Arvind Datar and Advocate Sibo Sankar Mishra, who emphasized over the loss of working hours due to the frequent boycott of courts by lawyers, this year it was estimated to have lost 2,14,176 hours by the district courts from January 1 to September 30.

“We expect full working of all bar associations by November 16 failing which BCI will proceed with further action against office bearers of all remaining bar associations. All office members and officer bearers of associations are put to notice that non-compliance will be treated as contempt and BCI shall take steps to cancel their licenses and any other steps.”

The Court concluded the hearing stating, “Access to justice is the very foundation of the legal system. The legal fraternity is the instrument of access to justice to people at large. When the very instrument abstains from Court, casualty is the common people and common litigants who suffer. We will not countenance that.”

The court will hear this matter on November 28. Also, directed the President and Secretary of the Joint Action Committee representative of 20 bar associations to be physically present on the next date of hearing.

The associations were staging strike, and abstaining from attending court proceedings, seeking establishment of another HC Bench in Western Odisha.

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