[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ALLAHABAD High Court Bar Association (AHCBA) has decided to call off ongoing strike following a stern warning from the Supreme Court on Monday that the top court will intervene to ensure people don’t get deprived of judicial remedy.
Rakesh Pande, president AHCBA told The Leaflet, “The association has called off the strike for the time being”.
However, he warned that the strike would resume if an acceptable solution was not found after a round of meetings with the Oudh Bar Association (OBA) and government representatives.
The association members had struck work on August 27 in protest against shifting of various government offices and tribunals to Lucknow. The association has been bitterly opposing the Uttar Pradesh Education Service Tribunal Bill, 2019, pending for President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent. The Bill seeks to set up the Education Service Tribunal at Lucknow, having jurisdiction over the entire state.
The representatives of the association joined by OBA are reportedly scheduled to meet the representative of Uttar Pradesh government, Sidharth Nath Singh, on September 11 for an amicable solution.
As a proposed solution, the government has reportedly decided to divide the Education Tribunal according to the jurisdictions of the Allahabad High Court and Lucknow Bench.
Education Tribunal Bill, 2019
The Uttar Pradesh Education Service Tribunal Bill 2019, as approved by the state cabinet on June 18, provides for setting up of specialized Education Service Tribunal at Lucknow.
The Tribunal having jurisdiction over all districts of the state will be called Uttar Pradesh Education Services Tribunal. It would deal with the service matters of teachers and employees of aided colleges, unaided secondary schools, Sanskrit education institutions, unaided primary and upper primary schools.
The protesting Allahabad lawyers have been pressing that the Tribunal must be set up in Allahabad, which is the principal seat of the state High Court.
On the other hand, the OBA has also resorted to protest demonstrations, seeking assurance from the state government that the tribunal will be established in Lucknow. It has even filed a petition before the Lucknow Bench of the High Court in this regard.
On the judicial side
On August 16, 2019, a two-judge bench of Allahabad High Court headed by Justice Sudhir Agarwal – in a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation titled ‘In Re: Dispute Relating to Place of Establishment of Adjudicatory Forum Like Specialized Tribunal etc.’ had passed an order asking the state of Uttar Pradesh to explain why the specialized educational tribunal proposed to be set up only at one place, Lucknow, ignoring the place of “Jurisdictional High Court”.
The bench also noted the difference of opinion between the division bench at Allahabad and Lucknow and asked the Chief Justice Govind Mathur to constitute a larger bench to resolve the issue as to where the specialized education tribunal will be established in Uttar Pradesh.
The members of the AHCBA, who were on strike since August 14 resumed the judicial work on August 19 after the division bench headed by Justice Agarwal passed the order on August 16.
On August 21, 2019, the OBA moved to Supreme Court challenging the sou-moto order passed by the division bench headed by Justice Sudhir Agarwal. The three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana directed the matter to be listed on August 26.
On August 26, a two-judge bench headed by Justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah set aside the order passed by the Allahabad High Court and held that the High Court could have abstained from passing such an order. The Court observed, “the suo-moto exercise of the power by the High Court was absolutely uncalled for in such a matter of establishment of Education Tribunal at Lucknow not at Allahabad”.
The apex court also criticised the call for strikes made by AHCBA and OBA and observed that the advocate association are “not supposed to settle their demands by resorting to strikes which may lead to nothing but delaying the justice to the litigants”.
“If the Bar Associations resort to strike in this method and manner, this Court keeps the options open to take up the matter on the judicial side and to deal with it in accordance with law,” cautioned the apex Court.
After the Supreme Court’s order on August 26, the members of the AHCBA restored the strike on August 27.
On September 2, Chief Justice GovindMathur issued a notice and, drawing reference of the apex court order, urged the advocates of HCBA to end their strike and resume work in “public and institutional interests”.
However, AHCBA continued with its strike irrespective of the orders of the apex court and advisory from the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.
On September 6, the bench headed by Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah again warned the members of the AHCBA and said that in case the strike is not called-off, the apex court will work out on“certain modalities so that the people are not deprived of the judicial remedy”.
The matter is now listed before the Supreme Court on September 11.
Today, at the Allahabad High Court, Chief Justice Govind Mathur after hearing the parties issued a notice to the state government and asked the Additional Advocate General to file the affidavit on September 16.
The matter has been listed for further hearing on September 23.