New Delhi: Disappointed over the agitation of the lawyers against recommendation of Supreme Court Collegium for appointment of a lawyer as High Court judge, the apex court Thursday issued notices to the president of Orissa High Court Bar Association and chairman of Orissa Bar Council asking them to appear before the bench and explain their conduct.
A two-judge bench of apex court comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and KM Joseph condemned the lawyers’ agitation and said that now there would be a super collegium of bar members to recommend judges to various high courts in the country.
“We consider it appropriate to issue notice to the chairman of the Orissa State Bar Council and president of Orissa High Court Bar Association. We have a little doubt that conduct of the lawyers really falls within the domain of contempt. However, before proceeding to take action in that behalf, we deem it appropriate to simply issue notice to explain their conduct,” the bench maintained.
“Bar Council of India chairman to inform us what steps they propose against the advocates who violated the directions of this court,” the bench added.
The bench observed that the origination of the strike was over a decision of SC collegium clearing the names of some candidates (who practice in this court) and not clearing the name of other candidates. This can hardly be a ground for the lawyers to abstain from work. Citing the Law Commission report, the apex court said, ”Staggering number of working days have been lost due to the strikes by advocates without any justifiable reason,” and asked Orissa HC counsel to file an affidavit “setting out the grounds for going on strike and abstaining from work in the year 2018-19 both in the High Court and in each of the district courts.”
The apex court also observed that the state government will provide adequate security arrangements at the courts and ensure the protection of advocates and litigants who are willing to appear at the HC and district courts.
During the hearing, the counsel appearing for the state government, Shibashis Mishra, submitted to the court that complete police assistance will be provided for functioning of courts. Similarly, the HC counsel informed the court that deployment of central forces is not required at this stage.
Significantly, the bench passed the order after Attorney General KK Venugopal, while assisting the top court, suggested that the apex court should summon the chairman of State Bar Council and president of HC Bar Association to explain the conduct of lawyers.
The Attorney General placed the Law Commission recommendations against the striking lawyers and cited several past instances from Delhi, Kolkata, Madras and Uttar Pradesh while citing SC rulings over strike by lawyers.
Condemning Wednesday’s decision by the High Court Bar association to suspend advocate Sibo Sankar Mishra, who represents the Orissa HC, the bench observed “this amounts to interference in the working of this court” and stayed the action of the bar association. The hearing was posted to November 9.