Striking lawyers: Non-examination of witness is contempt of court, says Allahabad HC
The court directed that in case examination of a witness is prevented by striking lawyers or striking lawyers refusing to examine the witness, the trial court shall record its finding in that regard.
The Allahabad High Court has held that any act of a counsel to prevent examination of a witness or refusal of a counsel to examine a witness before the trial court on account of a strike call, is an act of professional misconduct and also constitutes contempt of court.
It was held by justice Ajay Bhanot while hearing a third bail application moved by an accused, Noor Alam, on the ground that despite directions to conclude the trial, the same is not being concluded.
In this regard, the status report sent by the trial court clearly mentioned that the lawyers repeatedly go on strike. Further, the striking lawyers prevented the examination of witnesses who had appeared before the trial court on the dates fixed. This derailed the court process and also delayed the trial. Consequently, the order of this court was not complied with, the report added.
The court directed that in case examination of a witness is prevented by striking lawyers or striking lawyers refusing to examine the witness, the trial court shall record its finding in that regard. The trial court shall also record the names of the lawyers who have declined to examine the witnesses or have prevented the examination of the witness.
The trial court shall send the report to the Bar Council of Uttar Pradesh for initiation of disciplinary action and to the registrar general of this court for institution of contempt proceedings against erring lawyers, the court further directed.
While observing that the right to a speedy trial has been exalted as a fundamental right in constitutional law, the court further said, “Lawyers who strike work and impede the process of the court by failing to examine or prevent the examination of a witness, who is present in the court, commit professional misconduct. The Bar Council is duly empowered under section 35 of the Advocates Act to take appropriate action for misconduct,” the court added.
In the present case in hand, the court granted bail to the applicant by saying that he has been in jail since 2017 and merely because of deliberate belay in conclusion of trial one cannot be kept behind bars for a long period.