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A strike/ boycott in courts by lawyers is contempt of courts; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice M R Shah & Justice Arun Mishra

The SC {District Bar Association, Dehradun v. Ishwar Shandilya & Ors.} holds that to go on strike/boycott courts cannot be justified under the guise of the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. Nobody has the right to go on strike/boycott courts. Even, such a right, if any, cannot affect the rights of others and more particularly, the right of Speedy Justice guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.  Therefore, boycotting courts on every Saturday in the entire District of Dehradun, in several districts of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar district in the State of Uttarakhand is not justifiable at all and as such it tantamounts to contempt of the courts. Therefore, the High Court is absolutely justified in issuing the impugned directions.

The SC was in complete agreement with the view expressed by the High Court and the ultimate conclusion and the directions issued by the High Court. Accordingly, the SLP was dismissed.  It was further directed that if it is found that there is any breach of any of the directions issued by the High Court in the impugned judgment and order, a serious view shall be taken and the consequences shall follow, including the punishment under the Contempt of Courts Act. 

In the present case, the Advocates in the entire District of Dehradun, in several districts of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar district in the State of Uttarakhand have been boycotting the Courts on all Saturdays for the past more than 35 years. As the strikes are seriously obstructing the access to justice to the needy litigants, respondent No. 1 was compelled to approach the High Court by way of Writ Petition (PIL). Having noted from the information sent by the High Court to the Law Commission that with respect to the State of Uttarakhand for the years 2012- 2016 showed that in Dehradun district, the Advocates were on strike for 455 days (on an average 91 days per year) and in Haridwar district it is 515 days (about 103 days per year), the High Court was of the opinion that on all such working days on account of strikes and the conduct of the Advocates in boycotting Courts, it has affected the functioning of the Courts and it contributes to the ever-mounting pendency of the cases, and therefore directions have been issued by the High Court - which were assailed before the SC. The appeal was accordingly dismissed by the SC.

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