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6 reasons why the Delhi HC bar is going on strike again tomorrow (other than loss of work)

Abhijat, the secretary of the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) that passed a resolution to go on strike again tomorrow, told Legally India that the organisation was “deeply saddened” by the law minister’s “populist” response to the district court lawyers’ earlier strikes.

Yesterday, law minister DV Sadananda Gowda promised the district court lawyers to pass the long-pending Delhi High Court (Amendment) Bill 2014 to increase the pecuniary jurisdiction of district courts.

“It’s a matter of regret that the law minister did not even deem to hear us. The Delhi high court bar is the principal stakeholder, and we regret that we have been ignored.”

The increase of district court’s pecuniary jurisdiction to Rs 2 crore from Rs 20 lakh, would mean that all current (and future) cases in the Delhi high court with a disputed value of less than Rs 2 crore, would get transferred to the Delhi district court.

On the one hand, this would clear up pendency in the high court and provide more work to district court lawyers, on the other hand, high court lawyers would lose out on work or be forced to appear in the district courts for their clients in existing matters.

Responding to a question of whether this could result in an endless back-and-forth strikes between district court and high court lawyers, which would inconvenience litigants, Abhijat said: “The bar associations, in keeping with its traditions, does not want to inconvenience its litigants at all. the strike is a last resort, because we have no option left.”

According to Abhijat, the main arguments against the currently tabled proposal that the law minister promised to push through are the following.

1. No science

There has been absolutely no scientific analysis about this enhancement.

Only an internal committee in July 2011 recommended enhancement to about Rs 50 lakh. How Rs 50 lakhs becomes Rs 2 crore is a mystery.

There has to be a discussion but no scientific analysis has been carried out.

Would the DHCBA accept Rs 50 lakh jurisdiction proposal? Abhijat said that this could only happen after informed scientific analysis of the valuation of suits by expert committees, rather than making the decision now “in haste”.

2. Sweep cases pointlessly around

Sweeping pending cases from one jurisdiction to another doesn't solve anything at all.

3. Locational disadvantage

The high court is geographically centrally located and more convenient for litigants than going to a number of different district courts in their cases.

4. Additional delay

It has to be born in mind that cases will get delayed by about two years, because defendants will have to get fresh hearing dates in district courts.

5. More costs

Litigants will have to bear the financial burden of fresh fees to counsel as well. It is inconceivable that a client will drop his lawyer from the high court and get a new lawyer in the district court.

6. Flurry of re-transfer petitions

Immediately after the transfer, there will be a huge number of applications to amend plaints to take them back to the high courts, [by amending the valuation of disputed property, etc].

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