Check lawyers' strikes, misconduct

Check lawyers' strikes, misconduct

The countrywide strike resorted to by lawyers on Friday last adversely affected the functioning of courts and caused much inconvenience, distress and losses to the litigating public. The strike was, ironically, in protest against the Law Commission’s recommendations to comprehensively amend the Advocates Act of 1961, which included among others a proposal to ban strikes by lawyers. The Commission’s report, which contains over 30 amendments to the Act, was submitted to the government last week. It was on the Supreme Court’s direction that the report was prepared. It recommends that the rules governing lawyers’ conduct be made more stringent and strong action be taken in cases of misconduct. It recommends a ban on strikes except in compelling circumstances when a token one-day strike with the permission of the Bar Council of India may be allowed. The Supreme Court had also disfavoured strikes by lawyers.

The Commission has pointed out that courts have lost 30% to 50% of their working days in some states in the last few years because of strikes by lawyers. Some of these strikes were for the most insignificant and irrelevant reasons like an earthquake in Nepal or a bomb blast in Pakistan. Arrears of cases are mounting and the courts are woking at a slow pace. Strikes by lawyers and frequent adjournments are among the reasons for the rise in arrears. Lawyers only gain when cases are prolonged. A drastic curb on the lawyers’ strike-happy ways is, therefore, eminently desirable and needed. The report also proposes action to deal with the many forms of misconduct on the part of lawyers. The existing law does not define misconduct. The Commission says that overcharging of clients, failure to provide the best service to them and  wrong and objectionable behaviour in courts should be considered as misconduct. It has said that such behaviour has reached “terrifying proportions” now. It has also proposed imposition of penalties for misconduct and payment of compensation to the aggrieved people. 

About 40% to 50% of the lawyers who practise in the country are said to be fake. This is a serious matter and the Commission has prescribed stringent rules for the verification of qualifications and other details of lawyers. It has also recommended mandatory pre-enrolment training for lawyers and an entrance test for admission to all law colleges. These proposals, formulated after wide-ranging discussions, are intended to raise the standards of legal education and improve the working of the judiciary and the quality of justice. The government should not allow itself to be cowed down by the pressure and threats from lawyers.
DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)