The Supreme Court has ruled that no bar association can compel the Chief Justice to change a judge’s roster.

The Supreme Court on Monday, in a sharp rebuke to the Jaipur Bar Association’s request for a boycott, stated that the Bar Association and Advocates cannot pressure a Chief Justice to change a judge’s roster.

“We will not allow attempts by associations to pressurise judges,” the Court stated emphatically.

The bench of Justices MR Shah and AS Bopanna was hearing a petition in which it had issued a contempt notice to the office bearers of the Rajasthan High Court Jaipur Bench Bar Association for boycotting a single High Court bench as part of the strike.

The bench further ordered the Registrar General of the Rajasthan High Court in Jaipur to produce a report detailing exactly what happened on September 27, 2021, as well as a resolution from the Bar Association refraining from work on that day.

“Dr. Abhinav Sharma, who represents the current Bar Association, is requesting more time to write a response in order to clarify what happened on September 27, 2021. On November 16, 2021, it will be erected. Meanwhile, we request that the Registrar General of the High Court of Rajasthan at Jaipur provide a report detailing exactly what occurred on September 27, 2021, as well as a resolution from the Bar Association abstaining from work on that date. The report must be submitted on or before November 12th “The Supreme Court highlighted this in their decision.

Contempt Notice from the Supreme Court

In the case District Bar Association, Dehradun through its Secretary vs Ishwar Shandilya & Ors, the Supreme Court issued a show-cause notice for contempt to the Jaipur Bar Association, in which it took suo motu notice of the trend of lawyer strikes. The bench had previously sought the Bar Council of India’s help in resolving the problem.

The Bar Council of India later informed the court that, following a meeting with the State Bar Councils, it is proposing to draught rules to prevent lawyer strikes and court boycotts, as well as to take action against bar associations that break the rules and advocates who promote strikes on social media.

The bench stated that it will issue a “detailed order” to address this matter at a later hearing date. The bench also stated that it is considering establishing a grievance redressal mechanism for lawyers at the local level, so that valid issues can be addressed through a formal forum rather than resorting to strikes.

On February 28, 2020, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the fact that lawyers/Bar Associations go on strike despite the Court’s consistent decisions, and issued notices to the Bar Council of India and all State Bar Councils to suggest a course of action and concrete suggestions to address the problem of strikes/abstaining work by lawyers.

The Court took the unusual step while dismissing an appeal filed by the Dehradun District Bar Association against a ruling by the Uttarakhand High Court declaring the lawyers’ strikes unconstitutional.

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