Protesting the recently levied service tax, lawyers of Delhi district courts held a day-long strike on Thursday. The strike caused scores of litigants to return home without any hearing in their cases.
Rajiv Khosla, president, Co-ordination Committee All Bar Associations of Delhi, said: "The country-wide protest was observed by lawyers against imposition of service tax, allaying their fear of opening the gate for entry of foreign lawyers in India by bringing their profession under services, which are covered by WTO."
"We will give our memorandum to the finance minister and the law minister," Khosla said.
Additional solicitor general and the president of Delhi High Court Bar Association AS Chandhiok was seen manning one of the entrances to the High Court, and ensured that no lawyer appeared in any courtroom.
"Practising chartered accountants, cost accountants and company secretaries currently continue to enjoy exemption from paying service tax, in respect of the representational services provided to their clients," said Chandhiok. "We are observing strike seeking roll back of the proposal to levy service tax on us."
Litigants had a taxing time at courts as no lawyer appeared for routine cases. Pritam Singh, a resident of Greater Kailash, said: "My civil suit is already pending for so many years, and these strikes just add to the delay."
Lawyers said their profession is not covered within the meaning of services, as they only render assistance to the court for administration of justice, which sometimes they even provide without charging any fees.