The Rajasthan High court on Thursday issued show-cause notices to all bar associations in the state seeking affidavits explaining the continuing boycott of the courts by lawyers.
The lawyers have been staying away from the courts in Rajasthan since February 19 after the murder of advocate Jugraj Chouhan. They are demanding the enactment of a state law offering protection to advocates.
On Thursday, state Law Minister Shanti Dhariwal said in Kota that the Advocate’s Protection Bill will be introduced in the assembly on March 15. He said it would be passed on March 21.
Dhariwal said this after attending a Cabinet sub-committee meeting held in Jaipur via video conference from Kota. State ministers Mahesh Joshi and Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, and office bearers and members of the Jaipur Bar Association and the High Court Bar Association and the Sangarsh Samiti took part in the meeting.
Dhariwal said the Bill would be produced as it was and passed as it was. The Bill seeks to make any kind of abuse, threat or misbehaviour towards an advocate a non-bailable offence.
The Rajasthan High court, meanwhile, issued the notices to the presidents and the secretaries of all the bar associations, seeking affidavits on the legality of the strike by the lawyers on or before March 21.
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A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Manindra Mohan Shrivastava and Justice Vijay Bishnoi cited a Supreme Court order prohibiting strikes in the courts and directed the bar associations to furnish affidavits individually explaining the boycott.
The high court took cognisance of the lawyers’ boycott on February 28 and sought a reply from the Bar Council of India (BCI) and others, including the advocate general, additional advocate generals and the Bar Council of Rajasthan.
The Bar Council of Rajasthan had called a meeting on February 2, advising all the bar associations to withdraw their boycotts. A decision was taken to constitute a committee for the implementation of the Act.
Later, on March 6 too, the Bar Council of Rajasthan held another meeting in pursuance of a letter from the BCI to bring about a solution to the standoff but none of the representatives of the Rajasthan High Court Advocates’ Association and the Rajasthan High Court Lawyers’ Association attended it.
The members of both the associations met with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot during his visit to Jodhpur on February 19 in order to extract his nod on the pending act.
Gehlot had then assured them that the Act will be passed soon but seeing no development since, the advocates decided to gherao the state assembly on March 13.