The row between the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court D Murugesan and its bar over a proposed move to enhance the pecuniary jurisdiction of the court from R 20 lakh to R2 crore reached a flashpoint on Sunday.
Furious at Justice Murugesan, who allegedly wrote to the Centre to enhance the jurisdiction “without discussions with the bar despite assurances”, the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) asked 12,000 lawyers affiliated to it to not appear in court on Monday and also to boycott the chief justice’s court till the proposal was withdrawn. Justice Murugesan is retiring on May 31.
If the proposal is approved, the Delhi High Court can only hear civil cases involving disputes of a minimum of R2 crore and not less than that. Earlier the limit was R20 lakh and upwards. Now all these cases will be directed to the subordinate courts in Delhi.In a statement, DHCBA president and Additional Solicitor General AS Chandhiok alleged that the Chief Justice “betrayed and back stabbed the bar” and “ceased to be a gentleman”.
He said the news of chief justice writing to the Centre came when the bar was awaiting the promised deliberation with them before taking a decision on the issue.
The DHCBA is of the view that the chief justice or the full court had no jurisdiction to advise the government in this regard.
The bar had been protesting the move ever since it was learnt that an opinion in this regard was formed at a full court meeting (all judges) of the Delhi High Court in November 2012.
“Consultation with the bar was a minimum requirement under the law. A judge and a lawyer both participate in the administration of justice. While a judge administers law, the lawyer guides him in doing it. The court is their joint responsibility”, said Chandhiok.
He claimed that even as late as March 11, 2013, the chief had assured them that no further steps shall be taken till representation of the Bar is considered.