Advocates have responsibility of keeping stream of justice pure, unsullied: DB

Need to adopt 3-pronged strategy to reduce high-level of litigation: CJ

Says Bar & Bench constitute 2 wheels of carriage of justice

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Nov 24: Stating that Bar and the Bench constitute the two wheels of the carriage of justice, a Division Bench of High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh comprising Chief Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice M A Chowdhary has stressed that advocates as members of the Bar and officers of the court have the responsibility of keeping the stream of justice pure and unsullied. Moreover, the DB has laid emphasis on adoption of three pronged strategy to reduce the high level of litigation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
The DB was dealing with court on its own motion, which was registered on the report of the Registrar General about the impact of continuous strike of the lawyers on the functioning of the courts. The writ petition in suo-moto was taken up for consideration on December 11, 2019 by a Coordinate Bench.
On consideration, notices were issued to Advocates namely Baldev Singh, Nitin Bakshi, Azhar-u-Zaman and Mohinder Singh Palli to show cause as to why they should not be proceeded against for criminal contempt of the court as also to show cause as to why they should not be proceeded under Rules 10 and 11 of the Jammu & Kashmir Advocates (Regulation of Practice in the High Court and Subordinate Courts) Rules, 2003.
After hearing the matter at length and battery of lawyers including Bar President M K Bhardwaj, the DB headed by Chief Justice said, “the Advocates against whom notices were issued assure that their conduct will remain always in tune with the terms of the Advocates Act, 1961 as also of the Jammu and Kashmir Advocates (Regulation of Practice in the High Court and Subordinate Courts) Rules, 2003”, adding “the advocates further submit that they will fulfill their obligation towards the courts as also towards their clients as per the mandate of the judgments of the Supreme Court made from time to time”.
“The faith and confidence of the people on courts shall be the sole survival depending on the approach of the lawyers. There may be incidents which have taken ugly situation not only like the present one but all over the country, but mostly the matters got settled amicably in the larger interest of maintaining the relation between Bar and Bench”, the DB said, adding “we have also noticed that all the members of the Bar and the President of the Bar Association have expressed their full cooperation and support in ensuring justice to those who approach the court of law with full confidence”.
Stating that access to justice is the very foundation of any legal system, the DB said, “the legal fraternity plays the role of a very vital instrument in the process of access to justice to the people at large and when the very instrument abstains from the court proceedings, then it is the common people and the litigants who suffer”.
In the justice delivery system, there are three stakeholders – Judiciary, Bar and the Government. While Government should provide sufficient infrastructure facilities, establish more number of courts and create more posts of judges, the judiciary should prioritise and dispose of cases as early as possible and the lawyers should come to the court fully prepared and avoid asking for long adjournments so that length of the trial period can be reduced, the DB said, adding “it is the collective responsibility of all the three stakeholders to ensure quick disposal of cases as such it is high time that all the three come together to address the issue of speedy disposal and reduction in pendency”.
“We need to adopt three pronged strategy to reduce the high level of litigation—avoid litigation; adopt alternate dispute resolution mechanism and adjudicate quickly”, the DB stressed, adding “it is possible to avoid litigation if each and every one of the advocates advise the clients to avoid litigation, if possible. If we create a scenario in which litigation should be treated as a last resort, then surely the level of litigation will come down considerably”.
“In the event of a situation in which the client is not able to avoid the litigation, we should encourage settling the disputes through alternate dispute resolution mechanisms, which are not only quicker in disposing of the disputes but also bring down the pendency in the courts as well as the cost of litigation”, the DB further said, adding “it is the advocates and counsels who are the first point of contact in the process of litigation. If the Bar and its members advise the clients to opt for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, then surely, in the days to come, this will become popular”.
“It is the judiciary which is the ultimate authority in encouraging as well as promoting alternative dispute resolution mechanisms by recognising its role in resolving the disputes as well as giving finality to the settlement of awards passed by the alternative dispute resolution mechanism. Hence, the Bar as well as the Judiciary should promote this mechanism”, the DB further said, adding “in the event of not being able to avoid litigation and, if it is not possible to adopt alternative dispute resolution mechanism, the only other way to reduce the pendency is to adjudicate quickly. This, in our opinion, is only in the hands of the Advocates and the Judiciary”.
“As far as the role of advocates in disposing of the cases quickly is concerned, it is by avoiding adjournments and filing the statements and evidence as soon as possible as the role of advocates as officers of the court is to assist the court in administration of justice”, the DB said, adding “being a responsible officer of the court and an important adjunct of the administration of justice, the lawyer also owes a duty to the court as well as the opposite side”.
Stating that the Bar and the Bench constitute the two wheels of the carriage of justice, the DB said, “the function of both the Bar and the Bench in an adversarial system of dispute resolution are clearly made out, and the need for a dynamic relationship of co-operation between the two is acute”, adding “advocates, as members of the Bar and officers of the court, have the responsibility of keeping the stream of justice pure and unsullied so as to enable it to administer justice fairly and to the satisfaction of all concerned”.
“This involves two aspects – firstly, to uphold the dignity of the judicial office and maintain a respectful attitude towards the court, and secondly, to ensure that under no circumstance, any illegal or improper means is used to mislead the court”, the DB.
In the light of detailed analysis and discussion, the DB directed that the advocates against whom the contempt proceedings are initiated shall ensure adherence to their unique role in administration of justice as detailed out in several judicial pronouncements.
“The undertakings with reference to maintaining dignity, honour and respect of the court at all times and not causing any obstruction shall also form the basis for discharging of the role”, the DB said, adding “additionally, the basis for dropping the proceedings has reference to submissions made by the senior Bar members and President of the Bar Association and Advocate General”.
“We, thus, do not think it necessary to pursue this matter any further. We accept the oral and written undertakings of the respondents/ advocates and discharge the notices of contempt issued against them”, read the order pronounced by Chief Justice.