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Why shun work, HC asks advocates

chandigarh Updated: Jul 12, 2012 14:05 IST
Sanjeev Verma

The Punjab and Haryana high court, on Wednesday, questioned the rationale behind advocates' decision to abstain from work for two days on Wednesday and Thursday.

Protesting against the bills being introduced in Parliament to allegedly curtail the autonomous status of the Bar Council of India and state bar councils, around 3,500 advocates of the high court had decided to abstain from work on July 11 and 12.

During the hearing of the cases, a division bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain said, "A majority of the advocates would not know about the proposed Acts against which they are abstaining from work."

The bench asked some of the government counsels present in the court, "Do you know what is in the Act?"

The judges further asked, "Why can't you challenge the Act if there is something wrong in it?"

Taking note of the backlog of cases, the bench said, "The advocates can adopt the Japanese style of protesting by tying red ribbons on their arms. How can all the advocates get affected by the new Acts/Bills under question? It is only some of the bar council members who are affected."

Answering a request from one of the state government counsels to allow them to abstain from work as the call was given by the Bar Council of India and supported by the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, the bench said, "You are first officers of the court".

Though some of the government counsels were seen in the respective courts, most of the lawyers remained absent during their case hearing and petitioners were themselves pleading their cases.

The protest is being carried out against four bills, including the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011, the National Accreditation Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill, 2010, the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010 and the National Law School Bill, 2011.

The decision to abstain work was taken during a general house meeting convened by the Punjab and Haryana high court bar association on Tuesday.