Aditya AK 

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The State Bar Council of Chhattisgarh has annulled a 2015 resolution passed by the Bastar Bar Association barring advocates who are from other States from practicing in Jagdalpur.

The order comes as a relief for lawyers from other States who wish to practice in the region.

The decision was made in an appeal by lawyers of the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JAGLAG), Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelwal against the 2015 resolution. The resolution passed by the Bar Association was part of the pressure exerted on JAGLAG that eventually forced their eviction.

Though Gera and Khandelwal subsequently registered themselves with the Chhattisgarh State Bar Council after appealing against the resolution, they pushed for quashing of the same, for the benefit of their colleagues and other lawyers.

Two and a half years after JAGLAG first began providing legal aid in the Bastar region, the Bastar Bar Association held an aam sabha (general body meeting). At that meeting, a resolution was passed that prohibited non-local lawyers from appearing in cases without the prior approval of the association.

As a clear sign of hostility, the Association passed a second resolution saying that it would not be responsible if something untoward happened to the lawyers.

JAGLAG was eventually forced to exit Jagdalpur and relocate to Bilaspur, from where they continued to serve their clients.

In a previous interview with Bar & Bench, Shalini Gera spoke on the harassment JAGLAG and other lawyers faced from the local bar association and the police.

“For the first four years, they didn’t have any issues with us; we even co-hosted a seminar on legal aid and justice with them. Just as police harassment increased, even they started harassing us.

They were probably being pushed by the police. So, the police used many strategies – direct threats, pushing the Bar against us and the Samajik Ekta Manch. These were not independent incidents.”

Read the Chhattisgarh Bar Council’s order:Chhattisgarh bar council order