Work in courts across the country is set to be paralysed for the next two days as around 1.7 million lawyers are expected to join a nation-wide strike called by Bar Council of India (BCI) in protest against HRD ministry’s Higher Education and Research Bill.
BCI contends the bill is aimed at usurping its control over legal education. Intensifying its protests, the apex bar body asked lawyers across India to boycott courts on July 11 and 12.
Meanwhile a PIL was on Tuesday filed in the Delhi high court challenging the two-day strike by lawyers. The Bar Council of India and the state bar councils have been made respondents in the petition.
Petitioner Anoop Awasthi, an RTI activist said the strike is illegal because it has been called “without taking the chief justice of any high court or a district court judge into confidence”, and it has been called for more than a day.
“Around 1.7 million lawyers are expected to participate in the strike against the bill which will take away the autonomy given to Bar Council of India to regulate legal profession”, BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra told a press conference. He accused the government of trying to make the bar council redundant by usurping its powers . “Government is trying to undermine the authority of elected bodies of advocates and impose its supremecy over it”, said Mishra.
BCI feels that the move would make the entry of foreign law firms and institutions into India easier. “The bill was being brought to paralyze the entire legal education system and serve some vested interests”, it said.
"The bill iis an attempt to empower the HRD ministry to deal with aspects of the legal education and to take away statutory functions of the state bar councils and BCI provided under the Advocates Act," Mishra said.