Work in north Indian courts affected by lawyers’ strike

NEW DELHI - Work in courts across north India was affected Monday as lawyers in the region observed a daylong strike to protest amendments in the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) of the country.

With the amendments, it is no longer mandatory to arrest someone charged with an offence punishable with up to seven years in jail. All bar associations of the country will observe a nationwide strike Feb 3.

The lawyers from various bar associations of Delhi, the Federation of Bar Associations of National Capital Region (NCR) and other north Indian states stayed off work Monday.

Lawyers earlier abstained from work Jan 7 and 14 against the amendment in the CrPC, paralysing work in the courts.

‘There was a complete strike in all northern states, including Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh,’ Coordination Committee All Bar Association of Delhi spokesman Rajiv Khosla said.

‘The amendment removing mandatory arrest provisions in the offences punishable with imprisonment up to seven years would remove fear from the minds of criminals, who will misuse the provisions under the garb of personal liberty,’ Khosla said.

According to the amendments to the act, which has received the president’s assent, no arrest would be required for cognisable offences such as molestation, dowry harassment and attempt to robbery, prescribing maximum punishment of seven years’ jail term.

Though the bill bringing the changes in the CrPC has received the president’s nod, the government can still stall the legislation by not enacting it, Khosla said. He termed the amended law as anti-people and anti-social.

Ajay Chaudhary, president of the Panchkula Bar Association, said: ‘We are opposing amendments in Section 41 and Section 309 of the CrPC. These amendments take away certain categories of offences under sections 41 and 309 CrPC, which give mandatory arrest power to the police.’

Manjit Singh Chauhan, president of Mohali Bar Association, said: ‘Our motive behind the strike is not to harass litigants but to convey our message that government should change the recent amendments.’


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