Advocates have no right to Boycott the Court

Advocates have no right to strike

The Supreme Court (SC) says with unequivocal clarity that advocates have no right to strike and/or give a call for boycott of court proceedings.

The Advocates have no right to abstain from appearing in court in cases in which they hold vakalat for the parties. It is a quite unprofessional practice for a lawyer.

Similarly, no lawyer has any right to obstruct another lawyer from discharging his professional duty of appearing in court which is tantamount to committing a criminal offence. It amounts to interference with the administration of justice and a incidence of contempt of court, against which the concerned person is liable to be proceeded against.

Strike infringes the fundamental right of a citizen

Strike infringes the litigant’s fundamental right for speedy trial and the court cannot remain a mute spectator with helplessness on the face of such violation.

Neither any advocate nor any Bar Association) has any right to ask the court to keep away from discharging its judicial functions. The court cannot avoid any case on the ground that he does not want to appear in that court.

Advocate’s strike illegal & unethical

In B.L. Wadehra (Dr.) case, linked below, the Delhi HC issued the following declarations:

  1. Lawyers have no right to strike. Strike by lawyers is illegal and unethicial.
  2. If, on the ground of strike, a lawyer abstains from appearing in court in a case in which he holds the vakalat for the client, he is committing a professional misconduct, a breach of contract, a breach of trust and a breach of professional duty.
  3. If, in the name of strike, anyone obstructs or prevents a lawyer from discharging his professional duty of appearing in court, he is committing a criminal offence and is interfering with the administration of justice and is committing contempt of court.

Lawyer must follow the decorum of the court

A lawyer is under obligation to do nothing that shall detract from the dignity of the court, of which he is a sworn officer and assistant. He should always pay deferential respect to the Judge, and scrupulously observe the decorum of the court room (Wervelle’s Legal Ethics at p.182 as quoted in Mahabir Prasan Singh case referred to below).

it is not a unilateral affair. There is a reciprocal duty for the court also to be courteous to the members of the Bar and to make every endeavour for maintaining and protecting the respect which members of the Bar are entitled to have from their clients as well as from the litigant public.

Both the Bench and the Bar are the two inextricable wings of the judicial forum. Therefore the aforesaid mutual respect is sine qua non for the efficient functioning of the solemn work carried on in courts of law, says the SC.

Courts must hear cases despite strike

The SC says that the courts are under an obligation to hear and decide cases brought before it.

The courts cannot adjourn matters merely because lawyers are on strike. It is the duty and obligation of the court to go on with matters. Otherwise, it would tantamount to becoming a privy to the strike.

Bar Associations cannot issue strike call

If a resolution is passed by any Bar Association expressing want of confidence in judicial officers it would amount to scandalising the court to undermine its authority. If so, the Advocates involving in passing such resolutions are comitting the offence of contempt of court.

Since Mahabir Singh’s case (linked below) the lawyers know that if they participate in a boycott or a strike, their action is ex-facie bad in view of the declaration of law in that regard by the SC.

Advocate must ignore strike call

A lawyer’s duty is to boldly ignore a call for strike or boycott of court/s. The SC has pointed out that Advocates would be answerable for the consequences suffered by their clients if the non-appearance was solely on grounds of a strike call.

The strike or abstention from work impairs the administration of justice. It is detrimental to free and fair administration of justice such as there being a direct assault on the independence of the judiciary.

Abstention from work for the redressal of a grievance should never be resorted to where other remedies for seeking redressal are available. An advocate is the one who knows all the legal remedies available under the Constitution.

Legal profession is a noble profession

The legal profession is a solemn and serious occupation. It is a noble calling and all those who belong to it are its honourable members. Although the entry to the profession can be had by acquiring merely the qualification of technical competence, the honour as a professional must be maintained by its members by their exemplary conduct both in and outside the court.

The legal profession is different from other professions. In lawyers’ profession what the lawyers do affects not only an individual but the administration of justice which is the foundation of the civilised society, as well.

Lawyer can refuse to accept engagement

A lawyer however may refuse to accept new engagements and may even refuse to appear in a case in which he had already been engaged, if he has been duly discharged from the case.

He must discharge from his case if he wants to refuse to appear in the court as part of his protest against something.

Additional reading

  1. Ex-Capt. Harish Uppal vs Union Of India & Anr
  2. Col., S.J. Chaudhary vs State (Delhi Administration)
  3. Mahabir Prasan Singh vs M/S Jacks Aviation Private Ltd
  4. B.L. Wadehra (Dr.) vs State (Nct Of Delhi) & Ors.