Kolkata Railway Tribunal Lawyers boycot duties over Presiding Officer’s behaviour

A group of advocates boycotted the Railway Claims Tribunal on Monday, accusing its presiding officer of not maintaining the decorum of the court.

According to the angry lawyers, presiding officer Vandana Singhal was in the habit of eating during proceedings, which was tantamount to insulting the court. They alleged she never maintained records of citations made by lawyers, who often highlighted judgements passed by high courts and Supreme Court to bolster their arguments.

The agitated lawyers handed over a written complaint to the presiding officer, through the additional registrar of the tribunal, P.P. Guha. Copies of the letter were sent to the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court and the Railway Claims Tribunal, Calcutta.

Some of the lawyers also alleged that Singhai did not behave properly with advocates and their clients. They threatened to continue to their boycott if there was no improvement in the situation.

Guha refused comment. “I am not supposed to talk to the media,” she said.

Singhal, on the other hand, claimed she was unaware of the lawyers’ boycott. “I am not aware of what happened in the tribunal today… I am having my lunch, hence cannot talk further,” said the presiding officer.

However, many of those who had come for hearings, had to go back as there was no lawyer.

Advocate Krishna Mohan Murari, who looks after more than 200 cases pending before the tribunal, said, “All legal proceedings came to a halt in the second half today due to the boycott.”