New Delhi, January 24
The Supreme Court on Tuesday castigated the Bar Council of India (BCI) over the delay in coming up with a concrete plan for preventing lawyers in states from going on strikes and asked it to strengthen the rules of professional etiquette.
A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Bela M Trivedi was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO 'Common Cause' over alleged violation of the apex court order against strikes by lawyers.
The Supreme Court has been asking the BCI for quite some time to submit a concrete proposal about putting an end to agitations by lawyers.
Upset over an agitation by lawyers in Odisha's Sambalpur last year, the top court had warned of dispatching central forces to tackle the situation if the local police failed to bring things under control.
The court had taken strong exception to a report by the registrar general of the state high court and videos showing how the protesting lawyers forcibly entered the chambers of a district judge and other judicial officers. The agitators were seeking a high court bench in western Odisha. The SC had then asked the BCI to take action and suspend the licences of the agitating lawyers.
"For how long will the deliberations go on? If the Bar Council of India can't expedite the things which are needed to be done by itself, who else will do it? We need specific, concrete preventive measures. This is not a process that we can allow at your own leisurely pace," the bench said.
Advocate Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad, appearing for the BCI, submitted the stakeholders are all state bar councils with whom the Bar Council of India is in deliberation. He said the deliberations will take some time before they are concluded.
Prasad acknowledged the need for the state bar councils and other bar bodies to be sensitised on the issue.
"You need to strengthen the rules of professional etiquette. It appears you are not doing things...you need to take it seriously," the bench said.
Justice Trivedi orally observed that all state bar councils and bar associations are already sensitised but they don't want to follow the rules.
The top court asked the BCI lawyer to come up with concrete steps to be taken to tackle the issue and posted the matter for resumed hearing on March 16.
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