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Breaking: BCI shelves 8 Aug dharna against HER Bill, talking to HRD; Delhi HC disposes writ

BCI talks to HRD
BCI talks to HRD
Exclusive: The Bar Council of India’s (BCI) demonstration on 8 August has been indefinitely postponed because talks were ongoing between the lawyers’ regulator and the government, the Delhi high court was told today, disposing of the writ petition of advocate Anoop Prakash Awasthi against the BCI.

BCI standing counsel Preetpal Singh is understood to have told acting chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw that the dharna (sit-in) that was supposed to happen on 8 August has been “postponed indefinitely”, in view of the talks going on between the Ministry Of Human Resource Development (HRD) and the BCI.

The two bodies have been at loggerheads over the controversial Higher Education and Research (HER) Bill 2011, which the BCI has claimed encroaches on its powers to regulate legal education, culminating in a two-day lawyers’ strike on 10 and 11 July.

A person close to the BCI confirmed that the dharna that was proposed to be held at Jantar Mantar in Delhi had been postponed because “things are going in a good direction” with the HRD ministry, which was now willing to talk about the issue. BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra was unavailable for comment.

V Sudeer appeared on behalf of his junior and the petitioner Anoop Prakash Awasthi, who is out of Delhi today and was not able to attend the hearing.

Sudeer confirmed that the Delhi high court disposed of the matter but that he had asked for liberty to re-approach the court if the BCI called for a strike again.

The hearing was originally timetabled for 6 August, two days before the strike, after it emerged at the original hearing on 25 July that the BCI had sought permission from Delhi’s police to hold its dharna.

Awasthi’s petition [download] also prayed for contempt of court proceedings to be initiated against several bar council members for calling for a two-day strike, which the petition alleged was contrary to the Supreme Court judgment in the 1988 case of Ex. Capt Harish Uppal vs. Union of India & Anr.

Awasthi commented: “I am glad about the outcome. No more disturbance to court work.” He added that he was still considering taking up the contempt of court action for the two-day strike to the Supreme Court, as the Delhi high court bench had suggested to him.

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