The Delhi High Court is ready to axe the independence of the Bar Council by initiating disciplinary action against lawyers who take part in strikes or demonstrations.
The proposed notification under section 34 of Advocates Act empowers the High Court to constitute a disciplinary committee to hold inquiry against a lawyer who calls for a strike or abstains from judicial proceedings on account of it.
If found guilty, the lawyer can be debarred from appearing, pleading and conducting cases in all or any courts within Delhi for a period not less than 2 years but not exceeding seven years.
Senior members of the bar have condemned the move. Former Delhi Bar Council chairman, Ved Prakash Sharma said: “Its an attack on the independence of the bar. This move is to silence our agitation against corruption in the judiciary.”
President of Delhi High Court, Bar Council A.S. Chandhiok said: “High court can not cut short our fundamental rights. Court has no license to stop advocates from appearing. The bar council gives license to lawyers, not courts.” Gopal Subramanium, chairman Bar Council of India (BCI) said: “We will look into it the matter when it is brought to our noice."
As per the proposal, the Delhi High Court Chief Justice would have the power to withdraw a complaint. All appeals against the disciplinary action can be challenged on the judicial side, before a division bench comprising two judges.
The proposed notification requires advocates to consult the High Court Chief Justice or the District Judge before calling a strike. The Chief Justice or the District Judge's decision on whether the call to abstain from work is justified or not would be final and binding.
Those who fail to follow the decision would not be allowed to appear in courts and have to forfeit their ongoing cases. If the Bar council has grudges against the judiciary, it would have to approach grievance committee comprising sitting High Court judges.