SUPREME COURT ISSUES DIRECTIONS TO HIGH COURTS AND DISTRICT COURTS FOR FORMATION OF GRIEVANCE REDRESSAL COMMITTEES TO ADDRESS ISSUES FACED BY ADVOCATES
A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanulla passed a Judgment dated 20.04.2023 in ‘District Bar Association, Dehradun vs Ishwar Sandilya & Ors, MA No. 859 of 2020 in SLP (C) No. 5440 of 2020’ and issued directions to High Courts and District Courts for formation of Grievance Redressal Committees to address genuine issues faced by the advocates in India.
(1) In the present case, one, Mr. Ishwar Sandilya (Respondent) filed a Writ Petition (PIL): 31 of 2016 in the High Court of Uttarakhand stating that the Members of the District Bar Association (Advocates), Dehradun had been on a strike for a number of days, as a result of which several litigants including the Respondent had suffered owing to the delay in the process of dispensation of justice in the State.
(2) The Respondent submitted that the judicial officers had also not condemned the illegal, unwarranted and unlawful strikes conducted by the Advocates.
(3) The Respondent further claimed that litigants like him feel cheated when their Advocates participate in such strikes and do not appear in court, despite paying high professional fees to their Advocates.
(4) The High Court vide Order dated 25.09.2019 allowed the WP (PIL) / 31 / 2016 directing the District Bar Association of Dehradun to withdraw the strike calling it a misconduct on part of the Advocates for which the State Bar Council and its Disciplinary Committees can take disciplinary actions.
(5) Being aggrieved and dissatisfied by the High Court’s Order dated 25.09.2019, the District Bar Association, Dehradun, through its Secretary, filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) No. 5440 of 2020 before the Supreme Court of India. That the Ld. Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the Bar Association (Petitioner) stated that the right to go on strike / to boycott courts is a fundamental right to Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.
(6) That the Petitioner also submitted that a strike is a mode of peaceful representation to express the grievances by the Advocate community, as no other forum is available for Advocates to vent their grievances.
(7) That the Apex Court vide Judgment dated 28.02.2020 upheld the Order of the High Court dated 25.09.2019 and observed that the High Court was justified in passing the directions to withdraw the strikes and criticized the conduct of the Advocates going on strikes and thereby, dismissed the SLP No.5440 of 2020.
Supreme Court Observations
Aggrieved by the Supreme Court Judgment dated 28.02.2020, the Petitioners filed a Miscellaneous Application (MA) No. 859 of 2020 in SLP No. 5440 of 2020 seeking directions of the Apex Court for constitution of Grievance Redressal Committee (GRC) for redressal of grievances of Advocates.
The Apex Court, vide Judgment dated 20.04.2023, passed directions to all the High Courts to constitute GRCs in their respective High Courts headed by the Chief Justice and two other Senior Judges (one from the service and one from the Bar). The Supreme Court also passed orders to constitute similar GRCs at District Court levels. The Apex Court further stated that the GRCs must consider only genuine grievances related to the difference of opinion or dissatisfaction due to procedural changes in filing / listing of the matters of the respective High Courts or any lower courts.
Thus, with the aforesaid directions, the Supreme Court allowed the MA No. 859 of 2020 filed by the Petitioner in SLP No. 5440 of 2020.
The Indian Lawyer