Mumbai: Taking suo motu action against lawyers for boycotting courts in support of their agitation, the Bombay High Court today imposed fine and issued show cause notices to them for not appearing in a criminal case, thereby delaying the trial in a subordinate district court.

Show cause notices were issued to lawyers of 13 accused in the murder of wrestler Sanjay Patil, who was publicly shot dead in a market at Karad by two assailants in 2009.

A bench headed by Justice S C Dharmadhikari imposed fine of Rs 3000 each on lawyers who did not appear in this case at Satara court because of their agitation demanding a High Court bench at Kolhapur to cater to the districts of Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Solapur.

The bench asked the Principal Judge of Satara Court to ensure that costs were recovered from lawyers participating in the boycott.

Family members of the deceased had filed a petition seeking transfer of the trial to some other court since the case had been proceeding at a slow pace at the trial court.

The Court also asked the Bar Council of India and Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa to persuade lawyers to call off their boycott.

“If the boycott continues, let the association of advocates which called for the agitation know that courts and the highest judicial administration in the state is not powerless if the cause of justice suffers,” Justice Dharmadhikari said.

The bench also called upon the government to transfer trials from courts which are being boycotted to other courts in nearby places. For instance, a case in Solapur could be transferred to an Osmanabad court, the bench said.

The government should do so because it is a major litigant in at least 50 per cent of the cases, judges said.

“We are hopeful that such a step would not be required,” the bench said, while adjourning the matter for eight weeks.

The High Court also asked Principal Judge of Satara Court to ensure that no application for adjournment in this case is entertained in future.

Earlier, the High Court had asked the Principal Judge of Satara Court to file a report on the progress of the trial and state if lawyers appeared in this case or had boycotted the court.

The report of the Principal Judge of the Satara Court was submitted today and the high court was informed that lawyers did not appear due to the boycott.

“We are informed that the agitation and boycott of courts in Kolhapur, Solapur, Satara, Sangli and Sindhudurg districts continues. Advocates have not been allowed to appear or do not appear in these courts, resulting in the working of courts in all these districts coming to a complete stand still,” the bench said.

The bench referred to a Supreme Court judgement which said that in such cases, advocates who refuse to appear due to a strike or boycott of court, would have to be proceeded against in terms of rules framed by the court.

“Equally, directions to pay costs by advocates individually or along with litigants concerned in proportion could also be issued in exercise of the inherent powers of this court,” the judgement said.

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