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HC lawyers' ceasework extended again

Kolkata: The ceasework by lawyers' associations that has crippled the Calcutta High Court for over a record two months, will continue till May 11 over demands for appointment of judges, the Bar Association said today.
The Bar Association, which commands the affiliation of the majority of lawyers practising at the high court, has decided in a general body meeting that the ceasework will continue till May 11 and the decision will be reviewed on May 14, its general secretary Amol Mukherjee said.
"The ceasework will, however, automatically stand withdrawn if appointment of new judges is notified in the meantime," Mukherjee said.
The Bar Library Club, which is also participating in the ceasework, will meet on Monday to decide on its course of action with regard to continuation of the agitation.
"Our members will hold a meeting on Monday to take an independent decision with regard to extension of the ceasework," Bar Library Club president Jayanta Mitra said.
The previous longest strike was of 2 months in 2002 in protest against hike in stamp duty by the West Bengal government. It was observed across all courts in the state including Calcutta High Court.
Though a miniscule percentage of petitioners have moved the high court in-person during the ceasework, which began on February 19, most of the cases pending before the court could not be heard as lawyers have not participated in proceedings.
The associations have also demanded the appointment of a chief justice to the high court, which has been headed by acting chief justices for over three years with the exception of only three months.
The high court at present has 33 judges, while the sanctioned strength is that of 72 judges.
Thousands of litigants, whose petitions are pending before the high court, are at their wits' end as to when their cases would be disposed of given the uncertainty over when the ceasework would be lifted.
Till the end of March, 2,23,921 cases are pending before the high court, according to official data.
Very few new petitions have been filed since February 19 owing to the ceasework by lawyers, thus landing those who have urgent matters to be moved before the court in a soup.
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