Lawyers in Maha boycott courts over HER Bill
Judicial work in several courts in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra was on Wednesday affected as lawyers abstained from work to join their counterparts from across the country in response to a boycott call given by Bar Council of India (BCI) to oppose a proposed bill which seeks to whittle down its powers.
The lawyers are opposing the proposed Higher Education and Research (HER) Bill, 2011, as it aims to take away BCI's autonomy to regulate law courses and legal profession.
Around 1.25 lakh lawyers, affiliated to Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, have announced their support to the all India agitation, said Anil Singh, BCI member and former Chairman of the State Bar Council.
About 1.7 million lawyers from all over the country are expected to abstain from work for two days, beginning today, he said.
In Mumbai alone, there are 22,000 lawyers who are members of the State Bar Council, Singh said adding that most of them are supporting the two-day protest called by BCI to lawyers all over the country.
BCI is a statutory body created by Parliament to regulate and represent the Indian bar.
The bar associations in various places in Maharashtra, including Ahmednagar, Beed, Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur, Dhule, Gadchiroli, Jalna, Kolhapur and Pune, have announced their support for the stir.
In Mumbai, lawyers from various Bar associations in metropolitan courts at Mazgaon, Dadar, Andheri, Bandra, Borivali, Mulund and Vikhroli, joined the protest.
The Bar associations at Sessions Court, Labour Court, Family Court, Accident Claims Tribunal, Central Administrative Tribunal and Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal in the city also lent their support to the agitation, Secretary of State Bar Council, Pravin Ranpise, said.
"The Bill affects the vital and basic structure of Advocates Act, 1961, under which, total autonomy and independence was given to BCI and state Bar Councils to regulate the legal profession and education," Chairman of the State Bar Council V B Konde-Deshmukh said.
It proposes to take away the duties and functions entrusted to BCI and state Bar Councils and vests all these powers with a National Commission consisting of a few academicians, he added.
The legislation will "deprive" advocates from a say in formulation and implementation of policies involving legal education at the professional and educational levels, he said.
The Bill, introduced in the Rajya Sabha last year, seeks to establish a National Commission which will regulate university education, including vocational, technical, professional and medical education.
However, lawyers want legal education to be left out of the ambit of the proposed legislation.