On Monday, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association (HCBA) has removed Advocate General Atul Nanda from its membership, while blaming him for “continuously working against physical opening of the court”.
The decision prompted for an emergent meeting of the Bar Council, wherein after an elaborate discussion, it was resolved that though the Council fully supports the resolution regarding opening of physical hearings and strongly stands with the High Court Bar Association, however, it does not support dismembering of AG Nanda.
“Atul Nanda has always stood for the cause of Advocates. The said resolution of the HCBA is against the facts as Atul Nanda has publicly, many a times, supported the resumption of physical working of the Courts,” stated the Council while adding that the decision was taken in an arbitrary manner.
Therefore, expressing surprise at the “unilateral and arbitrary” resolution of the HCBA against him, Nanda said taking suo motu cognizance of the issue, the bar council, which is a supreme body, has “stayed” it.
“All the members were of the view that the decision taken by HCBA, is extremely unfair, unjust, harsh and uncalled for,” the Council said. It recollected that very recently, i.e., on 3 January 2021, Nanda had addressed the house consisting of all the Presidents and office bearers of all Bar Associations of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh and had supported the Resolution of the House for resumption of physical hearing of cases.
“In fact, the Advocate General Punjab has already written a Letter on the 30 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,” the Council added.
The Council further said that the Resolution passed by the HCBA is in complete derogation of the Rule 10 (d) and Rule 11 of the HCBA Rules, as neither the proper notice for the meeting was given nor the minimum quorum, as required, for such meeting was complete. Furthermore, the HCBA chose to boycott the meeting of the of the Administrative Committee held on January 13 to discuss the resumption of physical hearing, and this fact was allegedly deliberately concealed from the Members.
Lastly, the Council stated that disciplinary action against any Member of the Bar cannot be taken without following the drill of relevant Rules.
According to the HCBA, all the sectors of economy, movie theatres, primary schools, gyms, political gatherings are functioning in full capacity. The continuous closure of the Punjab and Haryana High Court is sending the wrong signal to the society apart from taking away the livelihood of lawyers, stenos, clerks and other persons associated with the legal field, it said.
On the other hand, Atul Nanda while reacting to the above decision, stated that “The decision to commence physical hearing rests with the administrative committee of the high court and not with me. Courts were closed for physical hearing keeping in mind the Covid-19 threat “which is far from over and the world is still battling the crisis”.
The HCBA, in a general house meeting on the resumption of physical work in the high court which has remained suspended since March 21 last year, also passed a resolution that “the Chief Justice of India and Union Law Ministry shall be requested to immediately transfer the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Punjab & Haryana High Court Chandigarh to any other court”.
“The Court of Hon’ble the Chief Justice shall be boycotted until the complete opening of physical courts or until his transfer,” the resolution read.