New Delhi: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Saturday disagreed with a suggestion by the apex bar body to lift a 16-year-old ban on strikes by lawyers, wondering why there should be a strike at all. Justice Gogoi’s response came after Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra raised the issue of lifting the ban at a BCI event to felicitate the new CJI.
The CJI’s view was also shared by apex court’s Justice Arun Mishra, who reminded the lawyers that their absence in court will affect people’s liberty and deny many of their rights, reports PTI. Justice Gogoi, who was sworn in as the CJI on October 3, said, “I don’t think it is an issue at all. Why go into the legalities. Why should there be a strike? I am sure there wont be any”.
Echoing his views, Justice Mishra said that the strikes of the Bar can only be supported in “exceptional cases when the democracy is in danger” or for “saving the judicial system” but otherwise “it has no right to go on strike”. “Can we afford jungle raj? Can we shut the doors for common man in rule of law. How many person’s liberty is affected when you are not in court that day. How many persons are bereft of their rights that day,” said Justice Mishra.
Demanding lifting of the ban, the BCI Chairman said that “if the mouth of lawyers are shut it will destroy the very democratic setup of the country”. “The legal fraternity has a great faith on the CJI. We are sure that you will restore our freedom,” he said. Justices N V Ramana and Mohan M Shantanagoudar, both apex court judges, were also present on the occasion.
In a 2002 judgement, an apex court bench had held that lawyers have no right to go on strike or give a call for boycott, not even a token strike. Justice Gogoi also expressed concern over the issue of large number of undertrials in the country. He said that the figure of undertrials in the country is “very disturbing” and added that “a large segment of the country’s young population is in jail”.
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