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“High Court humiliated us, protest will continue”: Himachal District Bar Associations

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SHIMLA- Amidst a continuous protest against the move of Himachal High Court for sending circuit courts of Additional District and Sessions Judges to subdivision level, on Sunday, representatives of bar associations from various districts gathered at the Shimla District Court Complex at Chakkar to decide further course of the protest. The move was criticized by angry lawyers practicing at district courts. They claim that it’s a ridiculous move and Chief Justice HP High Court has hurt the dignity and sanctity of the judiciary by not taking their views before making such a decision. The speakers expressed their grief over the humiliation they faced due to this move. Members commented that to deliver justice at doorsteps, first, the High Court should start circuit courts as there is only one High Court in the state, which makes it a compulsion for litigants to travel to the capital city. While senior advocates referred the issue as a serious situation where lawyers at district courts are facing a threat to their livelihood, the amateurs and new comers were almost asleep on back seats. Some members of Himachal Bar Council and Indian Bar Council were also present at the meet. To hear their grievance in their own voice, watch the videos below:

In highly charged atmosphere, speakers referred to the interference of political personalities in Judiciary, which applies to bar associations as well. But, as the present moment demands unity, most of the speakers emphasized the need to stand united. In some statements, representatives of district bar associations hinted towards the wastage of funds, which the High Court received recently. Lawyers also revoked an old demand that they have been making long; five days a week like that in High Court. They questioned the unjust discrimination in serving privileges in courts. However, a senior advocate, president of Hamirpur Bar Association, emphasized the need of focusing on the present issue of circuit court tours and not mix it with other issues. Also, they condemned the regulations in academic policies which are allowing a whole-sale of law degrees, and the fact that the courts are getting crowded with people in black suits, which they bought from educational institutes.

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What are circuit courts tours and why the lawyers are protesting against them?

As a simple answer, now the Additional District and Sessions Judges in Himachal will tour the circuit courts in their respective sub-divisional courts. The litigants can file their cases in their respective sub-division courts and won’t have to travel to their respective district courts. The step was taken under ‘Justice at your doorstep policy’. That means, the litigants won’t need the lawyers practicing at district courts, while at the same time, lawyers at sub-divisional courts are all in gold. Also, some cases have already been transferred to circuit courts. Now, either the lawyers will have to tour the sub-divisions if they wish to continue with their clients or they’ll have to leave the case and issue an NOC so that the client could hire the services of some other lawyer practicing at sub-division level. Why anyone would run to a district court when he/she have courts much near to their homes?

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After the meeting and a delicious lunch, the representatives of district bar associations along with senior advocates had a conversation to decide the fate of their protest and their demand of canceling the move. All the lawyers, except those practicing at sub-divisional courts, present at the gathering agreed to unite and continue with the protest until their plea isn’t heard by the honorable CJ of HP High Court.

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An interesting question that you must consider before you take a side is that whether this move is beneficial and relevant for the majority of the public? If it is, then the lawyers are protesting for their personal survival in a professional world. It will affect the future generations of advocates. The decision has come as damage to the career of advocates. At the same time, don’t ignore the fact that lawyers also make a part of public and society. They also have families and they seek the same kind of security and comfort for their kids as any parents do for their kids. To the lawyer community, the profession you chose comes with a huge responsibility. Judiciary is one of the pillars of democracy. As true human and nationalist, every lawyer is ought to respect what benefits the majority of population.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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Bad Weather Warning for Himachal, Tourists and Locals Advised Not to Venture into Higher Hills

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Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted heavy to very heavy rains for middle and lower hills on October 17th and 18th. The Met has also issued orange and yellow alerts for various districts.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall has been predicted in higher hills and advisory has been issued for both locals and tourists to avoid travelling to higher hills.

While a yellow alert with a prediction of thunderstorms and lightning at isolated places has been issued for Una and Hamirpur district on October 17, an orange alert with a prediction of heavy rainfall, thunderstorm, lightning and hailstorm at isolated places has been issued for Bilaspur, Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, and Kinnaur.

For October 18, a yellow alert has been issued for Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Chamba, and Kullu districts and an orange alert for the remaining districts.

The Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, warned that in view of the Met Department’s forecast for the next two days, locals and tourists should avoid Manali-Leh National Highway (NH-03) and refrain from venturing into higher hills.

In case, travel is unavoidable due to some compelling circumstances, such candidates have been asked to confirm weather and road conditions on given telephone numbers, which are 9459661355, 01900-202509, 510, 517 and 1077.

The DC also informed that in case of any emergency, people should contact the District Disaster Management Cell, Lahaul-Spiti, on 01900 202509, 510, 517, and Tall Free -1077.

The weather is predicted to be dry on October 19 and 20. 

Feature Photo: Photo by Rodrigo Souza from Pexels

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Haryana Tourists Fire Bullets in Air at Hatu Mata Temple, Brandish Rifle, Manhandle Priest

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Shimla-Following regular instances of hooliganism and assaults with weapons by tourists from neighbouring states, especially Punjab and Haryana, the Himachal Pradesh Police had announced regular checking of tourist vehicles on borders to prevent them from carrying weapons into the state. However, the tourists continue to bring weapons, including firearms, into the state.   

In a fresh incident, some tourists from Haryana on October 13, 2021, reportedly fired bullets in the air near the Hatu Mata Temple, Narkanda.  On hearing the sound of gunshots, the priest of the temple, Lalit Sharma, approached these tourists and objected to it. The tourists allegedly grabbed him by the neck and gave him life threats.

The priest freed himself somehow and immediately informed the temple committee about the incident. A member of the temple committee also informed the local police.

The priest said that a special pooja (worship) was organized at the temple on the occasion of Durga Ashtami and a large number of people was present inside the premises to participate in the pooja. This incident created panic among these devotees.

A taxi driver, Shravan Kumar, told police that two cars – HR 16X-3753 MG Hector & PB 26G-5555 Fortuner- were parked in the middle of the Hatu Mata link road, blocking the traffic. The tourists in these vehicles were brandishing guns and creating a nuisance. A short video clip showing one of these men brandishing a gun from their vehicle has also appeared. It was speculated that these men were intoxicated. 

Later, the local police arrived at the scene and apprehended about eight tourists for questioning. The police recovered a pistol, a rifle, and a dozen of bullets from the men. Cases were filed against two of them. When inquired in front of the temple committee, the two tourists told the police their names and addresses. They were identified as Kuldeep, 37, of Tehsil Lauharu, District Bhiwani, Haryana,  and Abhishek Kumar, 27, of district Bhawani, Harayana.

A case was filed at the Police Station, Kumarsain under Section 336, 34 of IPC and 25-54/59 of the Arms Act. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rampur, Chandrashekhar confirmed the report.

The temple committee has expressed concern over the incident and asked the police and the district administration to take stringent action against these men for hooliganism and creating a nuisance. The committee also urged that steps should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

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New Chief Justice of HP High Court Justice Mohammad Rafiq Takes Oath

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Shimla-The new Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, Justice Mohammad Rafiq, was today administered the oath of office by Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar in a ceremony held at Raj Bhawan.

Justice Mohammad Rafiq was born on 25th May 1960 at Sujangarh in the Churu district of Rajasthan. He completed B.Com in 1980, LL.B in 1984 and M.Com in 1986 from the University of Rajasthan.

He, later on, joined the Bar and practised as an Advocate after enrolment with the Bar Council of Rajasthan on 8th July 1984. He practised exclusively in Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur in almost all branches of law and specially conducted constitutional matters, service matters, land acquisition cases, land revenue cases, preventive detention cases, customs & excise matters, railway claims cases, tax matters, company matters and criminal matters before the High Court.

He worked as Assistant Government Advocate for the State of Rajasthan from 15th July 1986 to 21st December 1987 and Deputy Government Advocate from 22nd December 1987 to 29th June 1990. He appeared before the High Court as panel advocate for various Departments of the State Government for five years i.e. from 1993 to 1998.

He also represented the Union of India as Standing Counsel from 1992 to 2001 before the High Court. He also represented the Indian Railways, Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, Rajasthan Board of Muslim Wakfs, Jaipur Development Authority, Rajasthan Housing Board and Jaipur Municipal Corporation before the Rajasthan High Court.

He was appointed as Additional Advocate General for the State of Rajasthan on 7th January 1999 and worked as such till his elevation to the Bench. He was appointed as Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 15th May 2006. He also worked as Acting Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court twice; from 7th April 2019 to 4th May 2019 and from 23rd September 2019 to 5th October 2019. He was also the Executive Chairman of the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority and the Administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court before elevation as the Chief Justice. He was the Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya from 13th November 2019 to 26th April 2020. Justice Mohammad Rafiq was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court on 27th April 2020, on being transferred from the Meghalaya High Court. He was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on 3rd January 2021, on being transferred from the Orissa High Court.

The ceremony took place at the Darbar Hall of Raj Bhawan, where Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh conducted the proceedings of the oath ceremony and read out the notification issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the transfer of Justice Mohammad Rafiq as Chief Justice of the HP High Court.

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