Lawyers Ex­tend­ing Cease­work is Shock­ing: Cal­cutta HC

Alive - - Editorial -

Who is re­spon­si­ble for this dead­lock? Cen­tre! Who is en­sur­ing that Judges’ va­can­cies are not filled up in Cal­cutta High Court? Cen­tre! Who is en­sur­ing that even if lawyers of Cal­cutta High Court go on strike, it has to be en­sured that va­can­cies don’t get filled up? Again it is none other than the Cen­tre it­self!

Ac­tu­ally, lawyers any­where in any part of In­dia don’t just en­joy go­ing on strike. It is their own liveli­hood that suf­fers the most when they go on strike. It is only when they feel that it should be used as a last re­sort do they fi­nally take the un­palat­able de­ci­sion of go­ing on strike. Why does Cen­tre al­low the sit­u­a­tion to drift to such an abysmal level that the lawyers are left with just no op­tion but to go on strike?

It mer­its no re­it­er­a­tion that Kolkata High Court is the old­est High Court in In­dia that was the first High Court of In­dia and com­mands world­wide re­spect for its mem­bers con­duct­ing them­selves al­ways with el­e­gance which has few par­al­lels. The cap­i­tal of In­dia in Bri­tish era till 1911 was Cal­cutta and it was the place from where many em­i­nent ju­rists came out and made a per­ma­nent niche for them­selves by their ex­em­plary per­for­mances. But now Cal­cutta High Court is in the news for all the wrong rea­sons. Nearly 10,000 lawyers of three lawyers as­so­ci­a­tion at the Cal­cutta High Court have been on over two months strike in protest against the se­vere short­age of Judges at the court.

As things stand, the lawyers as­so­ci­a­tions at the Cal­cutta High Court on April 19 set a record for the long­est strike in its his­tory by ex­tend­ing it fur­ther. Com­pound­ing the plight of thou­sands of lit­i­gants, the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion took a res­o­lu­tion to ex­tend the cease work till April 25 on the ground that the au­thor­i­ties con­cerned have not ap­pointed any new Judge or a per­ma­nent Chief Jus­tice to the High Court de­spite the two-month long ag­i­ta­tion! The High Court at present has 33 Judges, even as the sanc­tioned strength is of 72 Judges.

Truth be told, the Cal­cutta High Court Bar As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent

Ut­tam Ma­jum­dar said that with no tan­gi­ble re­sults de­spite the ag­i­ta­tion, the cease work has to be ex­tended by an­other week. He said that, “With this ex­ten­sion, this will be­come the long­est strike in the his­tory of the Cal­cutta High Court. Af­ter today’s res­o­lu­tion, the ex­tended pe­riod would cross the twom­onth mark.” The pre­vi­ous long­est strike was of 2 months in 2002 to protest against hike in stamp duty by the West Ben­gal gov­ern­ment. It was ob­served across all courts in the State.

Who is re­spon­si­ble for this dead­lock? Cen­tre! Who is en­sur­ing that Judges’ va­can­cies are not filled up in Cal­cutta High Court? Cen­tre! Who is en­sur­ing that even if lawyers of Cal­cutta High Court go on strike, it has to be en­sured that va­can­cies don’t get filled up? Again it is none other than the Cen­tre it­self!

It is most dis­con­cert­ing to note that in­stead of its strength at 72 Judges, the Cal­cutta High Court has cur­rently has only 33 Judges. Should we all be proud of it? Should Cen­tre feel proud that it has en­sured that more than half the va­can­cies about 39 are just ly­ing va­cant? Should all In­di­ans feel ex­cited about it?

As it turns out, Cen­tre is al­ways quick to say that the cre­ation of a high court bench is a com­plex pro­ce­dure which must in­volve rec­om­men­da­tion of the con­cerned Chief Jus­tice and then ap­proval from State Gov­ern­ment and then Cen­tre can do some­thing! Cen­tre al­ways cites op­po­si­tion from the lawyers of Al­la­habad High Court as rea­son be­hind not cre­at­ing benches in West UP and other parts of the State! But what about ap­point­ing more Judges? Why more than half of the seats in Al­la­habad High Court keep ly­ing va­cant as has been seen in last so many years?

Lawyersʼ record cease­work at Cal­cutta High Court.

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