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Rajasthan HC judges ‘strike work for half day’ after bar association boycotts sitting judge 

The stand-off between judges & the High Court Bar Association stems from a case related to alleged attack on a lawyer by his neighbour.

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New Delhi: The Jaipur bench of the Rajasthan High Court did not hold court Tuesday morning, a rare move that was seen as a mark of protest against a resolution of the High Court Bar Association calling for the boycott of a sitting judge.

The stand-off between judges and the bar association stems from a case related to a lawyer who was allegedly attacked by his neighbour. The lawyer had moved a petition, asking for protection, and bar association members demanded Justice Satish Kumar Sharma hear the matter Monday itself. However, he refused.

Even though the high court hasn’t issued any official statement on the matter, sources confirmed to ThePrint that “no judicial hearing” took place in the morning session.

The benches were convened in the post-lunch session that began at 2 pm. However, Justice Satish Kumar Sharma continued to abstain from judicial work.

“Work resumed only after a meeting between all the judges and the bar association, and the chief justice formed a committee of six judges to look into our grievances regarding the specific judge,” Rajasthan High Court Bar Association president Bhuwnesh Sharma told ThePrint.

The bar association, which has called for the judge’s judicial work to be withdrawn until his current criminal roster is changed, has decided to continue boycotting Justice Satish Sharma unless their demands are met. “We are not sure whether that judge will hold the court tomorrow. As for the other judges, they will definitely sit,” Sharma said.

Also read: Marriage vs live-in: Rajasthan HC order shows judiciary not on same page over couples’ rights

Reasons for the stand-off  

Following the judge’s refusal to hear the case Monday, the bar association members started sloganeering against him and approached the Chief Justice, Justice Indrajit Mahanty, with its plea for an immediate hearing.

Justice Mahanty agreed the matter required urgent attention, as it dealt with the life and liberty of a lawyer, and marked it to another judge, Justice Mahinder Goel.

Even though the new judge heard the matter and granted the relief sought, the bar association passed a resolution Monday, requesting the chief justice to withdraw judicial work from Justice Sharma. They demanded he be assigned some other work, or else they would boycott his court.

Since the Chief Justice is the ‘Master of the Roster”, the Bar Association also submitted a representation to him.

Bhuwnesh Sharma told ThePrint that, during the meeting, the judges had asked the bar association to withdraw its resolution. “But we have refused to do so,” he said.

Referring to the judge’s decision to not hold court Tuesday morning, another lawyer practising at the high court said this was an unprecedented move. “This is akin to a strike by them,” he added, refusing to be named.

According to Sharma, lawyers in the high court were extremely unhappy with the way judges reacted to the resolution.

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

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