BY : PADMA SRI
A spine chilling picture is revealed from the report which is filed before us by the Superintendent of Police Paschim Medinipur. Pursuant to our earlier order dated 23.12.2019 we had directed him to enquire into the allegation of obstruction held out by striking lawyers within the smooth functioning of Medinipur Sadar Court. From the report, it appears on and from 20th December, 2019 the striking lawyers had obstructed access to the court premises to all or any , including judges, law enforcing police officials , staff and willing litigants. As a result, original case records weren’t produced before this Court. during this regard, police registered Kotwali station Case No.809/19 dated 25.12.2019 under Sections 143/186 of the Indian Penal Code against the striking lawyers. It appears from the report although such obstruction has presently been lifted, the cease work in the said court is still continuing.
Taking stern view of the incessant lawyers’ strike in Medinipur district of West Bengal , the Calcutta Apex Court on 9 th day of January 2020, asked the President and Secretaries of the concerned Bar Associations to point out cause for not initiating contempt proceedings against them.The division bench of Justices Suvra Ghosh and Joymalya Bagchi has asked the Presidents and Secretaries of Medinipur Bar Association and Midnapur District Bar Association to file their response by February 17, 2020. “Report placed before us discloses sufficient materials to require a clear view that the conduct of the striking lawyers amounts to interference with administration of justice and has resulted in complete paralysis within the dispensation of justice within the said district. Under such circumstances, we direct the Presidents and Secretaries of the concerned Bar Associations to show cause why contempt proceedings shall not be initiated against them in terms of law declared by the apex court in Harish Uppal (Ex-Capt.) Vs. Union of India (2003) 2 SCC 45,” the order read.
QUESTION OF LAW:
The deplorable state of affairs at the Medinipur Sadar Court was bought before the court’s attention in the bail plea wherein original case records couldn’t be produced because of the long drawn strike. The court was appraised that the lawyers at the said court had been on strike since December 20, 2019. The Calcutta court noted that the striking lawyers not only held back from appearing before the courts but also obstructed access to the court premises to all or any , including judges, law enforcing police officers, staff and willing litigants. Vehemently condemning the lawyers for flouting repeated orders of the SC and behaving in such nonchalant manner, the bench said, “The aforesaid state of affairs depicts an offhand attitude on the a part of the lawyers to the rule of law and repeated pronouncements of the Apex Court that a strike in court leading to paralysis of administration of justice amounts to criminal contempt. Report placed before us discloses sufficient materials to require a clear view that the conduct of the striking lawyers amounts to interference with administration of justice and has resulted in complete paralysis within the dispensation of justice within the said district.”
The Apex Court of Calcutta also issued a slew of directions to curb the menace created by the striking lawyers. It directed the concerned District Judge and therefore the Superintendent of Police to make sure that: (a) Court premises at Medinipur Sadar is kept open and accessible to all or any , without any kind of obstruction. (b) Prompt investigation for committing a cognizable offence is initiated against lawyers who cause obstruction to judges/police personnel/staff/willing lawyers/litigants and other stakeholders within the administration of justice. (c) No obstruction is created in furnishing of bail bonds by sureties including the members of the family of accused persons. The Calcutta court also directed all the judicial officers and court staff to require all necessary steps in order that certified copies and other relevant documents searched for by the litigants are provided to them forthwith.