Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, August 13
Hardening its stand against symbolic shutdown of the Punjab and Haryana High Court by its Bar Association against Haryana’s move to set up an administrative tribunal for adjudicating service matters of State employees, a Full Bench on Monday ruled that denying access to the litigants amounted to interference in the administration of justice before summoning the top brass of the Chandigarh Administration and the police.
“This Court cannot sit as a mute spectator to all this”, the Full Bench ruled.
The Bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj also slapped costs of Rs.50, 000 on the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association after ruling the court could not ignore the conduct of the striking lawyers, who had aggressively implemented their call for strike to paralyse the working and had violated the fundamental right of the citizens, including the litigants, by denying them access. “It is never expected that an advocate can be insensitive to the rights of the litigants,” Justice Bajaj added.
The Benches also dismissed cases “for non-prosecution” after the advocates failed to appear before the Courts, following a Full Court decision to decide the matters regardless of the ongoing strike.
The Bar Association, by late evening, looked divided over the issue of continuing with the strike and allowed the litigants access, while appearing to stick to their decision to go ahead with work suspension till Monday.
Amidst all the commotion, Haryana Government announced its decision to constitute a committee of State Chief Secretary, Bar Council chairman, Bar Association president and honorary secretary, Advocate-General’s nominee and employees’ representative, would report on the legality, workability and validity of the tribunal.
In the morning itself, Full Bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari, Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain assembled following administrative directions of the Chief Justice to take a stock of the situation after litigants desirous of appearing were forcibly denied entry.
The Bench asserted it was brought to its notice all gates, except gate number one where the advocates and Bar members were squatting, had been locked and a counter had been set up for scanning urgency before permitting litigants to enter.
“This is totally unconstitutional and illegal. A right of the litigant to have access to the Court where his matter is pending cannot be denied and the same amounts to interference in the due administration of justice. We are also informed that even the litigants who intend to file their petitions in person are being stopped forcibly. The Bench also asked UT Advisor, Home Secretary and Director-General of Police to appear in person tomorrow for assistance of the Court
Taking judicial notice of wrongfully restrained litigants, Justice Bajaj asserted the advocates’ mode of expressing grievance could not be construed unfettered and absolute. “This Court takes judicial notice of this fact from media reports that on different occasions the striking lawyers have manhandled the litigants, staff of this Court and other citizens, while denying them the entry to the Court premises”.
The order was passed on a habeas corpus petition where the father of a detainee girl was denied entry.
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