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Exploring The Advocate's Right To Strike: An Examination Of Its Legality And Implications

The Rights of an advocate is playing a crucial role in upholding justice, ensuring the rule of law, and safeguarding the rights of individuals. Advocates, as key members of this fraternity, carry the weighty responsibility of representing clients before judicial bodies with utmost integrity and ethical conduct. Their dedication to the principles of justice and their commitment to the fair resolution of legal disputes are essential for the functioning of a just and equitable society.

However, the efficacy of the legal system can be disrupted when those in positions of authority within the judicial system engage in actions deemed unlawful or inappropriate, such as going on strike. In recent times, there have been instances where advocates, in pursuit of their grievances or demands, have resorted to strikes or boycotts, raising questions about the legality and propriety of such actions[1].

In light of these developments, this paper seeks to delve into the advocate's right to strike and assess its constitutionality, particularly in the context of judicial contributions.

The paper critically examines the judicial stance on advocate strikes, analysing the rationale behind the court's position and evaluating the validity of advocates resorting to strike actions as a means of addressing grievances or advancing their interests. Through a thorough examination of legal principles, case law, and judicial interpretations, this study aims to provide insights into the complexities surrounding the advocate's right to strike with implications.

In a democratic society, the judiciary holds a pivotal position as the third estate, entrusted with the crucial responsibility of upholding justice and safeguarding the rights of citizens[2]. Advocates, as officers of the courts, bear the weighty responsibility of assisting in the administration of justice and ensuring the fair resolution of legal disputes. However, recent years have witnessed a surge in instances where lawyers have called for strikes and protests, leading to conflicts between the bar and the bench.

Despite numerous judgments by the apex courts declaring lawyer strikes as illegal, such actions persist, posing significant challenges to the administration of justice. This breach of trust between the legal fraternity and the judiciary not only undermines the principles of legal professionalism but also denies the real sufferers, the consumers of justice, their fundamental right to a speedy trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution[3].

From a constitutional perspective, the right to strike is viewed as a fundamental corollary conferred by Part III of the Constitution under the right to freedom of association (Article 19(c)), allowing individuals to unite for the common pursuit of their rights. However, this freedom is not absolute, and certain reasonable restrictions are imposed on it to prevent its abuse[4].

Historical Context:
The historical evolution of the legal profession itself has played a crucial role in shaping debates surrounding advocate strikes. Traditionally, advocates were seen as officers of the court, with duties and obligations centred on serving justice and representing client's interests. However, as the legal profession modernized and professional associations and bar councils were established, advocates began to assert their rights as professionals, including the right to fair working conditions, reasonable remuneration, and autonomy in the practice of law[5].

Historical examples of advocate strikes and collective actions also provide valuable insights into the challenges and complexities associated with this issue. Instances of advocate strikes, protests and boycotts have occurred in various countries and jurisdictions, often in response to perceived injustices within the legal system or infringements upon advocates' rights. These historical examples serve as important case studies for understanding the motivations, consequences, and legal implications of advocate strikes[6].

Meaning Of The Term "Strike":

The term "strike" as per the Advocates Act of 1961 under section 2(q) refers to the cessation or suspension of work by advocates as a form of collective action or protest. In the context of the legal profession, a strike typically involves advocates refraining from attending court proceedings, abstaining from providing legal services to clients, or boycotting legal activities such as filing pleadings or appearing before judicial bodies[7].

Under the Advocates Act of 1961, the legality of strikes by advocates is a contentious issue. While the Act does not explicitly prohibit advocate strikes, the legal profession is subject to certain ethical and professional standards outlined in the Act and related regulations. Advocates are expected to uphold the integrity of the legal system, maintain professional ethics, and prioritize the interests of their clients and the administration of justice.

However, despite the absence of a specific prohibition on advocate strikes in the Advocates Act of 1961, the judiciary and legal authorities have often expressed disapproval of such actions. Advocate strikes are seen as disruptive to the functioning of the legal system, detrimental to the interests of clients seeking timely access to justice, and potentially violative of the professional duties and obligations of advocates[8].

Reasons Behind The Advocate's Strike:

  1. Grievances against Legal Reforms: Advocates may go on strike to protest against legal reforms or changes in laws that they perceive as detrimental to the interests of their clients, the legal profession, or the broader principles of justice.
  2. Professional Rights and Working Conditions: Advocates may go on strike to demand better working conditions, higher remuneration, or improved facilities within court premises. Issues such as inadequate infrastructure, lack of security, or delays in court proceedings may prompt advocates to take collective action.
  3. Advocacy for Legal Reforms: Advocates may go on strike to advocate for specific legal reforms or changes in the legal system, such as reforms to improve access to justice, address systemic injustices, or enhance the efficiency of the judiciary.
  4. Solidarity with Social Causes: Advocates may go on strike to express solidarity with broader social or political movements, such as protests against human rights violations, discrimination, or government policies perceived as unjust.
  5. Response to Judicial Decisions: Advocates may go on strike in response to specific judicial decisions or rulings that they believe undermine the principles of justice, fairness, or the rule of law. Such strikes may be aimed at drawing attention to perceived injustices or seeking redressal through public pressure.
  6. Collective Bargaining: Advocates may go on strike as a form of collective bargaining with legal authorities or government bodies to negotiate better terms and conditions for legal practice, including issues related to fees, court procedures, or regulatory reforms.
  7. Symbolic Protest: Advocates may go on strike as a symbolic protest against perceived injustices or systemic issues within the legal profession or the broader society. Such strikes may serve as a means of drawing attention to important issues and stimulating public discourse and awareness.

Right To Strike � An Absolute Right Of An Advocate?

As per the Advocates Act of 1961, the right to strike is not explicitly recognized as an absolute right of advocates. The Act primarily governs the regulation of legal practice in India and outlines the rights, duties, and obligations of advocates. While the Act grants advocates certain rights and privileges in the exercise of their profession, such as the right to practice law and represent clients, it does not expressly provide for the right to strike[12].

Instead, the Act imposes ethical and professional obligations on advocates, emphasizing their duty to uphold the dignity of the legal profession, maintain professional integrity, and ensure the fair administration of justice. Advocates are expected to prioritize the interests of their clients and the principles of justice above all else.

Furthermore, while the Indian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of association under Article 19(1)(c), which includes the right to form associations or unions and engage in collective action, this right is not absolute. It is subject to reasonable restrictions imposed in the interests of public order, morality, and the sovereignty and integrity of India[13].

The question of whether advocates have the right to strike has been a subject of debate and contention within the legal community. While some argue that advocates should have the right to strike as a means of addressing grievances and advocating for their rights, others maintain that strikes by advocates undermine the functioning of the legal system and compromise the interests of clients and the public.

Thus, while advocates may have certain rights and privileges in the exercise of their profession, including the right to express dissent and address grievances, the right to strike is not recognized as an absolute right under the Advocates Act of 1961 or Indian law. Advocates are expected to adhere to ethical standards and professional conduct, prioritizing the interests of justice and the fair administration of law. Advocates' strikes violate the litigants' fundamental right to a quick trial.

The Supreme Court of India stated in Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar[14], that the right to a prompt trial is guaranteed by Article 21. Additionally, an advocate's strike wastes tax payers' hard-earned money and the court's precious time. The image is likewise damaged by these hits.

Role Of Bar Council Of India:

A statutory body is the Bar Council of India. The creation of the Bar Council of India is noted in Section 4 of the Advocates Act, 1961. In India, it governs both legal practice and legal education. It was established by the Parliament under the Advocate Act of 1961. It also establishes criteria for legal education and recognises universities whose legal degrees will be accepted as credentials for students to become advocates once they graduate. The Advocates Act, 1961, Section 7, outlines the responsibilities of the Bar Council of India[15] which are as follows;
  1. Regulation of Legal education: The BCI is responsible for setting standards for legal education in India. It prescribes the qualifications required for admission to law courses, approves law schools and universities offering such courses, and regulates the legal curriculum.
  2. Admission and Enrolment of Advocates: The BCI conducts examinations and determines the eligibility criteria for individuals seeking enrolment as advocates. It maintains the rolls of advocates, ensuring that only qualified individuals are admitted to practice law.
  3. Maintenance of Standards of Professional Conduct and Ethics: The BCI formulates and enforces rules of professional conduct and etiquette for advocates. It ensures that advocates maintain high standards of integrity, professionalism, and ethics in their practice.
  4. Safeguarding the Rights, Privileges, and Interests of Advocates: The BCI works to protect the rights and interests of advocates. It addresses grievances and concerns raised by advocates and takes appropriate measures to safeguard their professional interests[16].
  5. Disciplinary Proceedings: The BCI has the authority to inquire into allegations of misconduct against advocates. It conducts disciplinary proceedings and imposes penalties or sanctions on advocates found guilty of professional misconduct.
  6. Promotion of Legal Aid and Legal Awareness: The BCI promotes legal aid and legal awareness programs to ensure access to justice for all sections of society. It encourages advocates to provide pro bono legal services and facilitates the delivery of legal aid to the marginalized and underprivileged.
  7. Representation of the Legal Profession: The BCI represents the legal profession in India and serves as its apex regulatory body. It interacts with the government, judiciary, and other stakeholders on behalf of advocates, addressing issues concerning the legal profession and advocating for its interests[17].
Hence, the Supreme Court in a case in 2002 held that lawyers have no right to strike and such strike and declaration is illegal. Their powers are within the judicial system only. The Bar Council should see that there is smooth functioning of the judicial body. In Common Cause a Registered Society v. Union of India[18] and Others18In this case it was held that, if any associations of advocates call for a strike, then it is mandatory for the authorities to take strict actions against them.

The Bar council is represented by the lawyers; hence it is the lawyers' duty towards the court which matters. Even the Bar Council has certain provisions under Section 1 of Chapter II; Part VI of The Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[19]; the advocates duties towards the court have been mentioned.

Strike; A Professional Misconduct:

Under the Advocates Act, 1961, "strike" by advocates can be considered as professional misconduct. The Supreme Court correctly noted in Krishnakant Tamrakar v. State of Madhya Pradesh[20] that every strike harms the legal system irreversibly, especially for the litigants.

Furthermore, Section 49(1) (gg) of the Act specifically mentions that "strikes" or "boycotts" by advocates are considered acts of professional misconduct.

Here is the relevant provision which are as follows;
Section 49(1) (gg): "If he strikes or takes part in any concerted action including boycott, closure of Courts, abstention from work, etc., on any issue concerning the legal profession or the interest of lawyers[21]."

Advocates are officers of the court, and their primary duty is to assist in the administration of justice. Engaging in strikes or boycotts that disrupt the functioning of the courts or affect the interests of the legal profession is considered a violation of their professional obligations. Such actions undermine the sanctity of the judicial process and the rule of law, which are fundamental principles of the legal profession. Therefore, "strikes" or "boycotts" by advocates are deemed as professional misconduct under the Advocates Act, 1961[22].

Secondly, if the Bar Council of India has cause to suspect that an advocate has engaged in professional or other misconduct, it may establish a disciplinary committee against the advocate under Section 35 of the Advocate Act. The Indian Supreme Court made it abundantly clear in Common Cause a Registered Society v. Union of India[23] that the Indian Bar Council would take strong action against any advocate body that called for a strike.

Moreover, in a case before the Delhi High Court, the Bar Council of India clarified its position on strikes by advocates. It said that it is against strikes unless there is a question of the judiciary's independence and dignity, and that if strikes are unavoidable, every effort should be made to keep them brief and peaceful in order to prevent hardship for the litigating public.

The state bar council cannot order advocates in the state to observe a week-long protest abstaining from all judicial activity, as the court held in Praveen Pandey v. State of Madhya Pradesh[24]. This is because it is illegal, violates statutory restrictions, and goes against Supreme Court rulings.

Rationale For Refusing Lawyers The Ability To Go On Strike:

The primary responsibility of the judiciary is to assist those who are seeking justice on their own and in order to accomplish this, collaboration and coordination across its various branches are crucial. Article 21 of the constitution guarantees the fundamental right to a speedy trial; any flaw in the system would result in a breach of that right. Therefore, the judiciary's ability to function is negatively impacted by lawyers' calls for a strike. Prolonged protests and strikes impede the proper administration of justice, delaying case trials and ultimately prolonging their pendency.
  1. Harish Uppal v Union of India[25]:
    In this instance, the petitioner was a former army officer. The petitioner was stationed in Bangladesh in 1972. There, he was accused of embezzlement and taken to an army court in India where accusations were made against him. He requested a pre-confirmation application in a civil court to examine the case, and after the review's 11-year statute of limitations had passed, he finally obtained a response from the court. Later on, it was discovered that during a violent advocate strike, documents related to the application were lost. A unique petition was submitted.The Supreme Court thus stated that as long as it doesn't interfere with the court's ability to operate, it is acceptable to express silent discontent or to provide an interview to the media.
  2. In Hussain v. Union of India[26]:
    The court made it abundantly evident that the lawyers' strike and the court's suspension were unlawful, and that the legal community's first and most important responsibility.Advocates are required to abide by the professional behaviour and etiquette guidelines outlined in the Bar Council of India Rules, Chapter II, Part IV. Advocates must adhere to specific obligations to the court and their client under this clause.
  3. Ramon Services Pvt. Ltd. sued Subhash Kapoor and others[27]:
    A lawsuit was brought to evict the appellant company, a tenant at a building on Delhi's Barakhamba Road, from the premises. On 26.8.1998, the case was posted for trial and the issue was framed. Due to their participation in the advocate association-called strike, none of the appellant's nominated solicitors from the law practice appeared in court on the day of the trial. The matter was rescheduled for a later date, but since no attorney was present on that day either, the court decided against the appellant corporation ex parte.The appellant requested that the ex parte ruling of the court be invalidated under order 7 rule 13 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, but the trial court rejected the motion. The latter appellant also requested that the appeal be dismissed from the high court, but that request was denied. Finally, the appellant took his case to the Indian Supreme Court, which ruled that any losses incurred by the court's ex parte ruling in the absence of a strike attorney would be covered by the lawyer or the law company he represents.
  4. B.L. Wadhera v. State[28]:
    In this instance, the Delhi High Court ruled that an advocate would be guilty of professional misconduct if he had vakalatnama for a matter and chose not to present in court. The Supreme Court provided several guidelines in this case that must be adhered to.
    • The advocate is not excused from carrying out his duties because he is on strike.
    • An advocate who goes on strike is expected to reimburse the client for their costs and give enough notice for the client to make other arrangements.
    • In the event that the client is unlikely to be able to make other arrangements, the advocates should make sure to attend the court hearing.
The court has an obligation to hear an advocate's case if he wishes to present it, even if the A case in which the court has rendered an ex parte ruling is not subject to review by the court.

An advocate violates contract terms, betrays confidence, violates professional obligations, and engages in professional misconduct if they take a case but neglect to show up in court.

Solutions To Advocate's Grievances:
The prohibition against lawyer strikes was warranted because the impact of the strikes was eroding the foundation of the court. To ensure that the legal system operates in a balanced manner, it is also crucial to protect the interests of the advocates. According to Section 7 clause (d) of the Advocate's Act of 1961, the Bar Council of India is responsible for protecting the rights, privileges, and interests of advocates. As such, complaints from lawyers must be taken seriously and action taken to address their problems[29].

Secondly, The Law Commission of India's 266th report[30] makes the suggestion that the District Judge establish an Advocates' Grievance Redressal Committee at each district headquarters, led by a Judicial Officer, to handle the numerous problems and grievances that arise in the regular course of the advocates' work.

In order to address the complaints of advocates and enhance their effectiveness, the High Court may, in the exercise of its authority under Article 235 of the Constitution, issue a circular. The Bar may bring a grievance before the Chief Justice of the relevant High Court if there is a grievance against a judicial officer.
  1. Mediation and Arbitration: Utilize mediation or arbitration services to resolve disputes in a fair and impartial manner. Third-party intervention can help facilitate discussions and reach mutually acceptable solutions.
  2. Legal Aid and Support: Provide legal aid and support services to lawyers facing professional challenges or personal difficulties. Establish mechanisms to assist lawyers in navigating issues related to workload, workplace harassment, or professional misconduct.
  3. Professional Development and Training: Offer training programs, workshops, and continuing legal education opportunities to enhance lawyers' skills, knowledge, and professionalism. Investing in professional development can empower lawyers and improve their job satisfaction.
  4. Promotion of Work-Life Balance: Advocate for policies and initiatives that promote work-life balance and mental well-being among lawyers. Implement measures such as flexible working hours, parental leave policies, and access to counseling services to support lawyers' overall health and productivity.
  5. Policy Advocacy and Reform: Engage in advocacy efforts to address systemic issues affecting the legal profession. Advocate for policy reforms related to legal education, judicial infrastructure, professional ethics, and access to justice to create a more conducive working environment for lawyers.

Conclusion And Observation:
To conclude, the strikes by advocates are not covered by Article 19 of the Constitution. The legal profession is one of those that should strive to give people justice as soon as possible because it has as its motto serving society as a whole. Certain professions should be treated equally.

The Supreme Court noted in the historic Ex-Capt Harish case[32] ruling that strikes by advocates were unlawful and that solicitors may only legally request strikes in extremely rare circumstances. Attorneys have the right to seek resolutions to their disputes, but not at the expense of their clients' rights, who were harmed by the strikes that caused the delay.

Thus, this right to strike by advocates considered to be illegal and hamper the working of judicial system in India.

  1. Advocate's right to strike, available at: (Last visited on March 2, 2024).
  2. Lawyer's strike in India, available at: (Last visited on March 2, 2024).
  3. Advocate's right to strike is ethical or corrupt, available at: (Last visited on March 2, 2024).
  4. Article 19 of Indian Constitution, available at: (Last visited on March 2, 2024).
  5. Advocates and boycott of Courts, available at: (Last visited on March 2, 2024).
  6. Supra note 5 at 3.
  7. Strike by Advocates in India, available at: (Last visited on March 3, 2024).
  8. Right to strike; a fundamental right or not? , available at: (Last visited on March 3, 2024).
  9. Reasons behind strike, available at: (Last visited on March 3, 2024).
  10. Supra note 9 at 5.
  11. Supra note 7 at 4.
  12. Avoidance of strike by Advocates, available at: (Last visited on March 4, 2024).
  13. Supra note 4 at 3.
  14. (1980) 1 SCC 81.
  15. Powers and functions of BCI, available at: (Last visited on March 4, 2024).
  16. Supra note 15 at 7.
  17. Supra note 15 at 7.
  18. (2018) 5 SCC 1, AIR 2018 SC 1665.
  19. BCI 1975, available at: (Last visited on March 4, 2024).
  20. Criminal Appeal No.470 of 2018.
  21. The Advocates Act, 1961, available at: (Last visited on March 4, 2024).
  22. Supra note 5 at 3.
  23. Supra note 18 at 8.
  24. (2016) 8 SCC 335.
  25. (2003) 2 SCC 45.
  26. (2002) 1 SCC 128.
  27. (2001) 1 SCC 118.
  28. AIR 2000 Delhi 266.
  29. Supra note 7 at 4.
  30. 266 Report of Law commission, available at: (Last visited on March 5, 2024).
  31. Do Advocates have right to strike? available at: (Last visited on March 5, 2024).
  32. Supra note 25 at 10.

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