SC Directs Bar Council Of India To Cancel Licence Of Striking Lawyers In Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Bar Council of India (BCI) to cancel the licence of striking lawyers, which continued with their agitation over the high court bench demand despite a warning from the top court.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said, “100% work has to resume and there is no other option.” He asked police to provide protection to judicial officers and others and make arrangements to prevent lawyers from obstructing the working of court.

While issuing a slew of directions to deal with agitating lawyers, Justice Kaul said: “You want five High Courts in Odisha? How big is the state? Do you want one High Court outside every house now?”

“It is a sad state of affairs that we are being called upon to discipline the bar members like this. This is the statutory function of the Bar Council. Then, when we say toughen the exam for admission to the bar, you say it should be easier,” he added.

Supreme Court lawyer Niranjan Sahu said that the suspension can be revoked once they join work. “The Supreme Court also directed the district administrations to ensure smooth functioning of courts by providing protection to judicial officers and litigants. The local administrations have been asked to impose prohibitory orders and make preventive detentions, if necessary,” he added.

On November 14, the apex court came down heavily on the striking lawyers and directed them to resume work by November 16 after Orissa High Court filed a petition, stating that 2,14,176 judicial working hours were lost due to the strikes between January 1, 2022, and September 30, 2022.

The lawyers were also warned that non-compliance would invite proceedings for contempt and the BCI will take action for suspension and cancellation of their licences.

Members of Sambalpur district bar association (SDBA), however, announced that they will continue their agitation over the high court bench demand, saying that they are fighting for a public cause. “The lawyers will surrender their licences for the sake of this movement. If a single lawyer is suspended, 1,600 lawyers of Sambalpur bar association will surrender their licences,” President of SDBA Sureswar Mishra had said.

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