New Delhi: Work in
courts across the country was badly affected Wednesday as around
17 lakh lawyers joined a two-day strike called by the Bar Council
of India (BCI) to protest a proposed legislation that could affect
its autonomy and allow entry of foreign law institutes and
universities in India.
The strike called Wednesday and Thursday is to protest four
proposed legislations, including the National Accreditation
Regulatory Authority for Higher Educational Institutions Bill,
The strike was "successful", advocate Vijay Bhatt, associate
managing trustee of the BCI, told IANS.
"Judicial proceedings across the country were affected due to the
nation-wide lawyers strike," Bhatt said.
In the national capital, over 40,000 lawyers joined the strike,
paralyzing the functioning of six district courts in Delhi.
Around 50,000 cases were affected by the strike, said R.N. Vats,
chairman of the Delhi District Courts Bar Association
Co-ordination Committee and president of the Delhi Bar
However, the Delhi High Court Bar Association did not observe the
strike Wednesday. The association president, Amarjit Singh
Chandhiok, told IANS that they would observe the strike Thursday.
The lawyers strike badly hit work in all the higher and lower
courts across Maharashtra and Goa which wore a deserted look
Wednesday with around 1.4 lakh lawyers joining the strike.
Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa (BCMG) vice president Ashish P.
Deshmukh said the response to the strike in the Maharashtra and
Goa was "100 percent".
Deshmukh told IANS that lawyers plan to make a bonfire of copies
of the Higher Education & Research Bill, 2011, outside the Bombay
High Court to register their protest.
The bill will lead to privatization and commercialization of law
education in the country, and will curtail the power of the BCI,
which is the authority to grant accreditation to law colleges,
Work in courts all across the northeastern states was total and
successful, Gauhati High Court Bar Association president Pijush
Biswas told reporters in Agartala:
Reports from various northeastern states said the strike crippled
functioning of lower and district courts besides the Sikkim and
Gauhati High Court principal and state level benches in various
Gauhati High Court Bar Association secretary Arindam Lodh said the
bills proposed to be introduced were "against the federal
structure of the country and all educational institutions were
sought to be regulated by a few nominees of the union human
resources development ministry".
"Foreign law colleges, foreign solicitor firms and lawyers from
other countries would be allowed to work in India if these
legislations are passed in the parliament," he said.
The three other bills proposed by the union government and
objected to by the lawyers are the Higher Education and Research
Bill, 2011, the Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulations of
Entry and Operations) Bill, 2010, and the National Law School
Deshmukh said the government aimed to pass the bills in the
ensuing monsoon session of parliament. "The BCMG believes it would
act as a hindrance for the country's higher education sector,
including law education, and we are vehemently opposing it,"
Deshmukh told IANS.
He said once foreign universities enter the country, they would
act independently and have their own syllabus different from
Indian standards, which could create problems.
Deshmukh said the proposed bill would also alter the Advocates
Act, 1961, rendering all national, state and local bar councils
"In an independent country, it is necessary to have an independent
bar and independent judiciary. This independence would be curbed
with the proposed bills and badly hit law students and
practitioners," Deshmukh said.
He said the BCMG had appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
Law Minister Salman Khurshid and others not to pass the bills in
their present form.
Deshmukh said unless the government heeded the legal community,
lawyers all over the country would launch a "jail bharo"