On February 23, the Awadh Bar Association (Lucknow) and the Allahabad High Court Bar association (Allahabad) passed resolutions to boycott judicial work on the next working day (February 24). While the strike is on the same day, the reasons slightly differ.
The dispute at the Lucknow Bench
On February 23, an emergency meeting was held (through video conferencing) of the Governing Council of Awadh Bar Association, High Court, Lucknow. It was headed by Senior Advocate HGS Parihar, who is the chairman of the council.
The Governing council in its meeting decided that it “will abstain from Judicial work on 24.02.2021” and will also stage a peaceful demonstration near the High Court.
The main demands which were brought forward and discussed by the council concerned the following issues:
- Regarding the establishment of GST Tribunal at Lucknow
- Regarding the establishment of Company Law Appellate Tribunal at Lucknow
- Regarding the establishment of Education Tribunal at Lucknow
- Lastly, regarding the extension of territorial jurisdiction of High Court, Lucknow.
On the issue of the bifurcation of the Educational Tribunal, it was discussed that there is a sense of “anger” amongst the members of the bar. The State government had decided initially to establish the Educational Tribunal in Lucknow , but later it decided to bifurcate the Tribunal and the same was distributed between Allahabad and Lucknow.
“This step of bifurcating the Education Tribunal at two places has generated anger and resentment amongst the general public as well as amongst the members of the Bar.” reads the resolution
Another issue under controversy concerns the location of the proposed GST Tribunal. It was previously proposed by the State government to establish the GST Tribunal and the Company Law Tribunal at Lucknow, but till date, no update has been given by the government on this front.
Further, the association unanimously confirmed the minutes of the last meeting held on February 11, when the resolution to boycott court was passed in the wake of an order passed by the Allahabad High Court on February 9 (Writ Tax No.655 of 2018) in which the Court directed the Union of India to constitute the Principal/State Bench of the GST Tribunal at Allahabad.
The Association seeks that the Tribunal be located in Lucknow. It is contended by the Lucknow Bar Association that the Court’s February 9 order is in conflict with the order in
As far as the grievance over the failure to extend territorial jurisdiction is concerned, it is noted that a newly constructed building at the Lucknow Bench has 25 courtrooms (of 55) vacant. It is recounted that there have been past demands for extending the territorial jurisdiction of the Lucknow Bench to areas of Kanpur, Bareily, Moradabad and Merrut. However, no steps have been taken, the Association says.
The dispute at the Allahabad High Court
The Allahabad High Court Bar Association also called an emergency meeting on February 23, in the old study room at the Allahabad High Court. The meeting was chaired by Amrendra Singh, along with other members of the governing council.
The Bar council has collectively decided to boycott or abstain from judicial work on February 24 (today) in protest of the decision to establish the Education Tribunal with its main seat in Lucknow.
It is contended that the way in which the Annual Budget of 2021 (which also deals with the establishment for the Education Tribunal) was brought about by the State government is problematic.
In establishing the Education Tribunal at Lucknow, not only would the lawyers be jeopardized, but the academic and staff members wil alsol ultimately face a crisis. It was observed that the Principal bench of the tribunal should be in Prayagraj and that, subsequently, the other bench can be constituted in Lucknow.
During the resolution it was informed that in September 2019, the Deputy Chief Minister had assured the Bar Association that the Principal Bench of Education Tribunal would be established in Allahabad and that the subordinate bench would be in Lucknow.
Recently, the Uttar Pradesh budget was passed by the government where the Deputy Chief Minister of UP, Dinesh Sharma observed that “The issue of the educational services tribunal has been resolved. Now, two benches of the tribunal will be set up, one in Lucknow and another in Allahabad,”
It was informed by Dinesh Sharma during the budget speech that the tribunals will have the same members.
“Only separate staff will be there in Allahabad and Lucknow. The same members of the tribunal will sit in Lucknow and Allahabad on specific days. Soon, the government will issue a notification in this regard”, Sharma said.
Education Tribunal: A tale of controversy since 2019
In 2019, when the government decided to set up the Education Tribunal in Lucknow, the bar associations had abstained from judicial work.
The court ultimately took up the cause and notices were served to the government. On the question of going on strike and abstaining from judicial work, the Bench of Justices Sudhir Agarwal and Rajeev Mishra in In Re: Dispute Relating to Place of Establishment of Adjudicatory Forum Like Specialized Tribunal etc. observed that:
“We cannot shut our eyes from the fact that Courts at Allahabad and Lucknow both are reeling under acute heavy pend-ency of cases which has gone beyond 9.25 lacs at both places cumulatively. On the one hand, Stakeholders are endeavoring to take steps for early disposal of pending matters so that litigants may get justice at an early date but on the other hand, judicial work is paralyzed resulting in virtual non disposal of cases and frustrating the very attempt on the part of Stakeholders towards reduction in pend-ency of huge arrears.”