Lawyers across country to strike work tomorrow

New Delhi: Lawyers have decided to abstain from judicial work in all courts across the country tomorrow in protest against a proposed Bill that bars advocates from holding agitation and makes them liable to compensate litigants if they go on strike.

The Bar Council of India (BCI), the apex body of advocates, has given a call for the strike across the country, saying the recommendations were against their interests.

BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra said lawyers practising in the Supreme Court have been kept out of the strike, but they will show their solidarity with the striking lawyers by wearing white band on their arms.

Advocate Neeraj, general secretary of Coordination Committee of bar associations of all Delhi district courts, said that a group of lawyers today met Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who assured them that the Bill would not be passed without consulting them.

According to the BCI website, there were some 12 lakh lawyers all over the country as of 2013.

Lawyers are opposing the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2017 proposed by the Law Commission of India to the government which, among others, lays down the definition of “misconduct” which according to the BCI has only been defined in its rules.

The BCI has claimed that “misconduct” has been defined in a “provocative” manner and would make it difficult and risky for a lawyer to accept the brief of any client.

“Negligence, not showing due diligence, misbehaviour, dishonourable conduct (towards the client or towards the court or anybody) amounts to misconduct under the definition of Law Commission of India,” as per a BCI release.

The proposed changes in the Advocates Act also include removal of a lawyer’s name from the rolls if he or she abstains from court work.

The BCI has claimed that this will lead to usurping of their right to protest.

The Law Commission has further proposed to impose a fine which may extend up to Rs 3 lakh and the cost of proceedings and also award compensation of such an amount, subject to a maximum of Rs 5 lakh as it may deem fit, payable to the person aggrieved by the misconduct of the advocate.

Lawyers would also be liable to pay compensation to litigants if they abstain from work even if the client has not paid the advocate.

The non-payment of fees either in full or part by a person to his advocate shall not be a defence available for the lawyer against whom claim for compensation due to alleged misconduct or participation in strike or otherwise is made by the client.