Supreme Court Stays Madhya Pradesh High Court Order Debarring District Bar Association Members

Supreme Court stays High Court order debarring 10 Seoni Bar Association members from court appearances and elections, citing lack of opportunity to be heard.

The Supreme Court has intervened in a case involving the Seoni District Bar Association in Madhya Pradesh, staying a Madhya Pradesh High Court order that debarred 10 members of the association from appearing in any court for one month. Additionally, the order prevented them from contesting elections to the Bar Association or Bar Council of the state.

The High Court's decision stemmed from senior members of the Bar Association announcing a strike from March 18-20, prompting concerns about the legality of lawyers' strikes. The interim order was passed during the hearing of a Suo Moto PIL initiated by the High Court regarding lawyers' strikes.

In response to the High Court's decision, a bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra stayed the operation of the order. The bench emphasized the importance of lawyers acting responsibly instead of resorting to strikes.

"Why keep going on strikes? Lawyers must show some responsibility you did not like some land allotted to you and you went on strike," remarked CJI Chandrachud.

The petitioners argued that the High Court's order was passed without giving the concerned members an opportunity to be heard. Furthermore, they claimed that even before the order, they were directed to be removed from their respective offices, and a new ad-hoc committee was hastily constituted overnight.

The 10 advocates affected by the disciplinary action, including the President Ravi Kumar Golhani and Secretary Ritesh Ahuja, were the current office bearers of the Seoni District Bar Association. The decision to debar them arose from a strike declared in protest against the state government's unilateral decision to allot a new site for the District Court Complex without consulting the Bar Association.

The new site, located in an insecure area, raised concerns regarding security and infrastructure. The decision to allocate the land without consulting the Bar Association triggered unrest among the lawyers' community.

The Supreme Court's intervention comes amidst a broader context of legal disputes surrounding lawyers' strikes and contempt proceedings initiated by the High Court. Recently, the Madhya Pradesh High Court dropped contempt cases and show cause notices against advocates who protested against the '25 Debt Scheme', introduced to expedite the disposal of pending cases in district courts.