On lawyers’ strike in Bengal, two Supreme Court benches make opposite statements

In separate orders, two vacation benches of the top court on Friday made opposite statements on the situation — one to allow the relief sought, and the other to deny it.

Are courts in West Bengal functioning following the lawyers’ strike or not? Even the Supreme Court of India did not seem to be sure.

In separate orders, two vacation benches of the top court on Friday made opposite statements on the situation — one to allow the relief sought, and the other to deny it.

Praveen Agrawal, a BJP office-bearer from West Bengal, had moved the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail. He submitted that he was forced to approach the top court in view of the ongoing strike in all the trial courts as well as the Calcutta High Court in West Bengal.

On this, the bench said, “It is very unfortunate that the strike is going on in all the courts in the State of West Bengal and due to which, ultimate sufferers are the litigants. By such a strike, the entire judicial function cannot be made paralysed and the litigants cannot be allowed to be suffered. Therefore, as such, a day has come to stop such illegal strike. We hope and trust that wiser counsel will prevail. The Bar Council/concerned Bar Associations may look into the matter with all seriousness. In view of the aforesaid peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, we have no other alternative but to entertain the present writ petition filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India as the petitioner is apprehending his arrest.”

The other plea was by former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar seeking extension of protection from arrest as the trial courts were on strike and he could not approach them for bail.

Turning down his plea, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, B R Gavai and Surya Kant said “…since it is open to the petitioner to approach the concerned Court, as the Courts in the State of West Bengal are functioning, appear in person and seek the remedy before the concerned court”.

The bench disposed of Kumar’s plea “with the liberty to seek remedy to approach the concerned Court in the State of West Bengal…”

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