Report No. 266
Loss of Courts' Working Days: A Staggering Fact
7.1 Every High Court, on its administrative side, takes a decision fixing the minimum number of working days for subordinate courts which varies from State to State.
7.2. In the State of Uttarakhand, the information sent by the High Court for the years 2012-2016 shows that in Dehradun District, the Advocates were on strike for 455 days during 2012-2016 (on an average, 91 days per year). In Haridwar District, 515 days (103 days a year) were wasted on account of strike.
7.3 In the case of the State of Rajasthan, the High Court of Judicature at Jodhpur saw 142 days of strike during 2012-2016, while the figure stood at 30 for the Jaipur Bench. In Ajmer District courts, strikes remained for 118 days in the year 2014 alone, while in Jhalawar, 146 days were lost in 2012 on account of strike.
7.4 The case of Uttar Pradesh appears to be the worst. The figures of strike for the years 2011-2016 in the subordinate courts are alarmingly high. In the State of Uttar Pradesh, the District courts have to work for 265 days in a year. The period of strike in five years period in worst affected districts has been as - Muzaffarnagar (791 days), Faizabad (689 days), Sultanpur (594 days), Varanasi (547 days), Chandauli (529 days), Ambedkar Nagar (511 days), Saharanpur (506 days) and Jaunpur (510 days). The average number of days of strike in eight worst affected districts comes to 115 days a year. Thus, it is evident that the courts referred to hereinabove could work on an average for 150 days only in a year.
7.5 In this regard, the situation in subordinate courts in Tamil Nadu had by no means, been better. The High Court of Tamil Nadu has reported that there are 220 working days in a year for the courts in the State. During the period 2011-2016, districts like Kancheepuram, 687 days (137.4 days per year); Kanyakumari, 585 days (117 days per year); Madurai, 577 days (115.4 days per year); Cuddalore, 461 days (92.2 days per year); and Sivagangai, 408 days (81.6 days per year), were the most affected by strike called by advocates.
7.6 As per the responses received from the High Courts of Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, the picture does not emerge to be satisfactory.
7.7 The Commission noted that the strike by advocates or their abstinence from the court were hardly for any justifiable reasons. It could not find any convincing reasons for which the advocates resorted to strike or boycott of work in the courts. The reasons for strike call or abstinence from work varied from local, national to international issues, having no relevance to the working of the courts. To mention a few, bomb blast in Pakistan school, amendments to Sri Lanka's Constitution, interstate river water disputes, attack on / murder of advocate, earthquake in Nepal, to condole the death of their near relatives, to show solidarity to advocates of other State Bar Associations, moral support to movements by social activists, heavy rains, or on some religious occasions such as shraadh, Agrasen Jayanti, etc. or even for kavi sammelan.
7.8 The Commission is of the view that unless there are compelling circumstances and the approval for a symbolic strike of one day is obtained from the Bar Council concerned, the advocates shall not resort to strike or abstention from the court work.