Chandigarh (Raftaar News Bureau) : The Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana on Monday stayed the dismemberment of Advocate General Atul Nanda by the High Court Bar Association (HCBA), terming it “extremely unfair, unjust, harsh and uncalled for.” It also stayed the dis-memberment of some other members of the Bar, finding it “in derogation of the HCBA rules.”
An emergent meeting of the Bar Council discussed the Association’s decision via Resolution ‘E’ qua dis-membering of Nanda at length, and found the action to have been taken “in an arbitrary manner”. The meeting was called after the Punjab & Haryana Bar Association dismembered all lawyers who appeared in court today despite a strike call. The advocation also passed a resolution dismembering AG Atul Nanda on grounds that he had “continuously worked against physical opening of the court”.
The Association, in Clause “E” of its Resolution, held that: “Sh. Atul Nanda Advocate General, Punjab has continuously worked against the physical opening of the Court and has acted against the interests of the Bar and is dis-membered from the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association.”
The Council, however, held that “The Resolution “E” is ex-facie illegal and passed in violation of the prescribed procedure in the relevant Rules of the HCBA and as such the House unanimously resolves to stay the Resolution “E” of HCBA that is part of Resolution No. 1988/2021 HCBA dated 01.02.2021 with immediate effect.” The Council reiterated unanimously that Nanda’s conduct “has always been appreciable and exemplary especially whenever the interest of Advocates is involved.”
Nanda himself expressed surprise at the unilateral and arbitrary resolution of the Association, saying “the decision to commence physical hearing rests with the administrative committee of the High court and not with me”. He said the courts were closed for physical hearing keeping in the mind the Covid threat, “which is far from over and the world is still battling the crises.” He further said he had given consent for physical appearance of the counsels for the state of Punjab. Incidentally, the Supreme Court of India has also yet not opened for physical hearing.
The Bar Council, after elaborate discussion during its emergent meeting, “resolved that on one hand the Council fully supports the resolution regarding opening of physical hearings and strongly stands with the High Court Bar Association on this” but “All the members were of the view that the decision taken by HCBA, is extremely unfair, unjust, harsh and uncalled for.”
The Bar Council members were of the view that Nanda had always stood for the cause of Advocates, and the said resolution of the HCBA was against the facts as he had publicly, many a times, supported the resumption of physical working of the Courts. They further noted that as recently as 3rd January 2021, Nanda addressed the House consisting of all the Presidents and office bearers of all Bar Associations of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh at Law Bhawan, where he had supported the Resolution of the House for resumption of physical hearing of cases.
In fact, the Council pointed out, “the Advocate General Punjab has already written a Letter on the 30th of January 2021 giving his consent for appearance of law officers of the State of Punjab during physical hearing of cases in the High Court.” Its Resolution further read: “It has also been discussed that yesterday on 31st January, a meeting of the Administrative Committee comprising of the Hon’ble Judges was convened at the Conference Hall of High Court at 04:00 PM to discuss the resumption of physical hearing and resolve the pending issues. The office bearers of the HCBA were also invited for discussion in the above meeting. The office bearers instead of attending the meeting and hold discussions with Hon’ble Judges, had chosen to boycott the meeting for the reason best known to them. The House was deliberately not apprised of the above factual position which is clear concealment.”
The Council also stayed the dis-memberment of some other Members, noting that it was “passed in complete derogation of the HCBA Rules i.e Rule 10 (d) and Rule 11, as neither the proper notice for the meeting was given nor the minimum quorum, as required, for such meeting was complete.”
“The disciplinary action against any Member of the Bar cannot be taken without following the drill of relevant Rules,” the Council resolution noted, adding that “a specific agenda with due notice is required to be circulated if the conduct of a Member of HCBA is to be discussed in the House.