Madhya Pradesh High Court: Sujoy Paul, J. dealt and dismissed a petition while highlighting the increasing issues of strikes and boycotts by the lawyers.
The petition was regarding a request to classify the petitioner as permanent employee in pursuance of Government Circular from the date of his entitlement and pay all the consequential benefits, in the interest of justice.
In the present case, advocates were abstaining from work. However, Supreme Court in the case of Harish Uppal (Ex-Capt.) v. Union of India, (2003) 2 SCC 45 was of the opinion that despite the strike of the Advocates, the Courts may decide the matters on merit. The rationale behind the case was “law is already well settled and it is the duty of every Advocate who has accepted a brief to attend trial, even though it may go on day to day and for a prolonged period. If a boycott call is given by the Bar Association, lawyer who has accepted a brief cannot refuse to attend Court. It is also settled that it is unprofessional as well as unbecoming for a lawyer who has accepted a brief to refuse to attend Court even in pursuance of a call for strike or boycott by the Bar Association or the Bar Council. Courts are under an obligation to decide and hear cases brought before them, the matter cannot be adjourned if the lawyers are on strike. It is for the reason that if the Court does not go with the matters, it would tantamount to becoming a privy to the strike. “
A lot of similar judgments were also mentioned to support the above statements.
The petition was dismissed concluding that lawyers have no right to go on strike or call for boycott. If any protest is required, press statement, TV interviews, carrying banners/ placards outside court premises wearing black or white or any colour armbands, peaceful protect marches outside and away from Court premises, going on dharnas or relay fasts etc.
It was reiterated that Lawyers must refuse to abide by any call for strike or boycott.
As per the pleadings, petitioner was not a civil post holder but an employee of a cooperative society. The petitioner had claimed benefit of Circular of Government and said circular showed that it was applicable to Government Departments and to the employee of Zila Panchayats, it could not be extended in favour of the employees of co-operative society.[Rajbahadur Baiga v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine MP 2619, decided on 20-12-2021]
Advocates were abstaining from work!